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From a portrait at Imola, by an unknown painter. 

















^., ^. 


Main Lib. HISTORf I 

• • • • , ' , 


This is no Chronicle of Saints. Nor yet is it a History 
of Devils, ^t is a record of certain very human, 
strenuous men in a very human, strenuous age ; a 
lustful, flamboyant age ; an age red with blood and 
pale with passion at white-heat ; an age of steel and 
velvet, of vivid colour, dazzling light and impenetrable 
shadow ; an age of swift movement, pitiless violence 
and high endeavour, of sharp antitheses and amazing 

To judge it from the standpoint of this calm, 
deliberate, and correct century — as we conceive our 
own to be — is for sedate middle-age to judge from 
its own standpoint the„reckless,hot^ passionate, lustful 
humours of youth, oly,ouththat^errj_gri^^ 
achieves greatly. 

So to judge that epoch collectively is manifestly 
wrong, a hopeless procedure if it be our aim to under- 
stand it and to be in sympathy with it, as it becomes 
broad-minded age to be tolerantly in sympathy with 
the youth whose follies it perceives. Life is an 
ephemeral business, and we waste too much of it in 
judging where it would beseem us better to accept, 
that we ourselves may come to be accepted by such 
future ages as may pursue the study of us. 

But if it be wrong to judge a past epoch collectively 
by the standards of our own time, how much more 
is it not wrong to single out individuals for judgement 
by those same standards, after detaching them for 
the purpose from the environment in which they had 


:3^; -ir- :: : >' PREFACE 

their being ? How false must be the conception of 
them thus obtained ! We view the individuals so 
selected through a microscope of modern focus. 
They appear monstrous and abnormal, and we straight- 
way assume them to be monsters and abnormalities, 
never considering that the fault is in the adjustment 
of the instrument through which we inspect them, 
and that until that is corrected others of that same 
past age, if similarly viewed, must appear similarly 

Hence it follows that some study of an age must 
ever prelude and accompany the study of its in- 
dividuals, if comprehension is to wait upon our 
labours. To proceed otherwise is to judge an indi- 
vidual Hottentot or South Sea Islander by the code 
of manners that obtains in Belgravia or Mayfair. 

Mind being the seat of the soul, and literature being 
the expression of the mind, literature, it follows, is 
the soul of an age, the surviving and immortal part 
of it ; and in the literature of the Cinquecento you 
shall behold for the looking the ardent, unmoral, 
naive soul of this Renaissance that was sprawling in 
its lusty, naked infancy and bellowing hungrily for 
the pap of knowledge, and for other things. You 
shall infer something of the passionate mettle of this 
Ifif an t : jiis tempestuous mirth, his fierce rages, his 
simplicity, his naivete^ his inquisitiveness, his cunning. 
Ills deceit, his cruelty, his love of sunshine and bright 

^ To realize him as he was, you need but to bethink 
you that this was the age in which the Decamerone of 
Giovanni Boccaccio, the Facetiae of Poggio, the Satires 
of Filelfo, and the Hermafhroditus of Panormitano 
afforded reading-matter to both sexes. This was 
the age in which the learned and erudite Lorenzo 
Valla — of whom more anon — wrote his famous in- 
dictment of virginity, condemning it as against nature 
with arguments of a most insidious logic. This was the 



age in which Casa, Archbishop of Benevento, wrote 
a most singular work of erotic philosophy, which, 
coming from a churchman's pen, will leave you cold 
with horror should you chance to turn its pages. This 
was the age of the Discovery of Man ; the pagan 
age which stripped Christ of His divinity to bestow 
it upon Plato, so that Marsilio Ficino actually burnt 
an altar-lamp before an image of the Greek by whose 
teachings — ^in common with so many scholars of his 
day — ^he sought to inform himself. 

It was an age that had become unable to discriminate 
between the merits of the Saints of the Church and 
the Harlots of the Town. Therefore it honoured 
both alike, extolled the carnal merits of the one in 
much the same terms as were employed to extol the 
spiritual merits of the other. Thus when a famous 
Roman courtesan departed this life in the year 15 ii, 
at the early age of twenty-six, she was accorded a 
splendid funeral and an imposing tomb in the Chapel 
of Santa Gregoria with a tablet bearing the following 
inscription : 




It was, in short, an age so universally immoral as 
scarcely to be termed immoral, since immorality may 
be defined as a departure from the morals that obtain 
at a given time and in a given place. So that whilst 
from our own standpoint the Cinquecento, taken 
collectively, is an age of grossest licence and immor- 
ality, from the standpoint of the Cinquecento itself 
few of its individuals might with justice be branded 

For the rest, it was an epoch of reaction from the 
^ge of Chivalry : an epoch of unbounded luxury, of 
the cult and worship of the beautiful externally ; an 
epoch that set no store by any inward-virtue, by truth 


or honour ; an epoch that laid it down as a maxim 
that no inconvenient engagement should be kept if 
opportunity offered to evade it. 

/ The history of the Cinquecento is a history developed 
Jin broken pledges, trusts dishonoured and basest 
/ treacheries, as you shall come to conclude before you 
( have read far in the story that is here to be set down. 

In a profligate age what can you look for but pro- 
fligates ? Is it just, is it reasonable, or is it even honest 
to take a man or a family from such an environment, 
for judgement by the canons of a later epoch ? 
Yet is it not the method that has been most frequently 
adopted in dealing with the vast subject of the Borgias ? 

To avoid the dangers that must wait upon that 
error, the history of that House shall here be taken 
up with the elevation of Calixtus III to the Papal 
Throne ; and the reign of the four Popes immedi- 
ately preceding Roderigo Borgia — who reigned as 
Alexander VI — shall briefly be surveyed that a standard 
may be set by which to judge the man and the family 
that form the real subject of this work. 

The history of this amazing Pope Alexander is yet 
to be written. No attempt has been made to exhaust 
it here. Yet of necessity he bulks large in these pages ; 
for the history of his dazzling, meteoric son is so 
closely interwoven with his own that it is impossible 
to present the one without dealing at considerable 
length with the other. 

The sources from which the history of the House 
of Borgia has been culled are not to be examined in 
a preface. They are too numerous, and they require 
too minute and individual a consideration that their 
precise value and degree of credibility may be ascer- 
tained. Abundantly shall such examination be made 
in the course of this history, and in a measure as the 
need arises to cite evidence for one side or for the 
other shall that evidence be sifted. 

Never, perhaps, has anything more true been 


written of the Borgias and their history than the 
matter contained in the following lines of Rawdon 
Brown in his Ragguagli sulla Vita e suite Of ere di 
Marino Sanuto : " It seems to me that JKistory 
has made use of the House of Borgia as of a canvas upon^ 
which to jdepict the turpi^ the fifteenth and 


Materials for tKework were very ready to the hand ; 
and although they do not signally differ from the 
materials out of which the histories of half a dozen 
Popes of the same epoch might be compiled, they are 
far more abundant in the case of the Borgia Pope, 
for the excellent reason that the Borgia Pope detaches 
from the background of the Renaissance far more 
than any of his compeers by virtue of his importance 
as a political force. 

In this was reason to spare for his being libelled 
and lampooned even beyond the usual extravagant 
wont. Slanders concerning him and his son Cesare 
were readily circulated, and they will generally be 
found to spring from those States which had most 
cause for jealousy and resentment of the Borgia might 
— Venice, Florence, and Milan, amongst others. 

No rancour is so bitter as political rancour — save, 
perhaps, religious rancour, which we shall also trace ; 
no warfare more unscrupulous or more prone to use 
the insidious weapons of slander than political warfare. 
Of this such striking instances abound in our own 
time that there can scarce be the need to labour the 
point. And from the form taken by such slanders 
as are circulated in our own sedate and moderate epoch 
may be conceived what might be said by political 
opponents in a fierce age that knew no pudency and 
no restraint. AH this in its proper place shall be more 
closely examined. 

For many of the charges brought against the House 
of Borgia some testimony exists ; for many others — 
and these are the more lurid^ sensational, and appalling 


covering as they do rape and murder, adultery, incest, 
and the sin of the Cities of the Plain — no single grain 
of real evidence is forthcoming. Indeed, at this time 
of day evidence is no longer called for where the 
sins of the Borgias are concerned. Oft-reiterated 
assertion has usurped the place of evidence — for a 
lie sufficiently repeated comes to be credited by its 
very utterer. And meanwhile the calumny has sped 
from tongue to tongue, from pen to pen, gathering 
matter as it goes. The world absorbs the stories ; it 
devours them greedily so they be sensational, and 
writers well aware of this have been pandering to that 
morbid appetite for some centuries now with this 
subject of the Borgias. A salted, piquant tale of vice, 
a ghastly story of moral turpitude and physical corrup- 
tion, a hair-raising narrative of horrors and abomina- 
tions — these are the stock-in-trade of the sensation- 
monger. With the authenticity of the matters he 
retails such a one has no concern. " Se non e veto 
e hen trovato^"* is his motto, and in his heart the sensa- 
tion-monger — of whatsoever age — rather hopes the 
thing be true. He will certainly make his public so 
believe it ; for to discredit it would be to lose nine- 
tenths of its sensational value. So he trims and 
adjusts his wares, adds a touch or two of colour and 
what else he accounts necessary to heighten their 
air of authenticity, to dissemble any peeping spurious- 

A form of hypnosis accompanies your study of the 
subject — a suggestion that what is so positively and 
repeatedly stated must of necessity be true, must of 
necessity have been proved by irrefutable evidence at 
some time or other. So much you take for granted — 
for matters which began their existence perhaps as 
tentative hypotheses have imperceptibly developed 
into established facts. 

Occasionally it happens that we find some such 
sentence as the following summing up this deed or 


that one in the Borgia histories : " A deal of mystery 
remains to be cleared up, but the Verdict of History 
assigns the guilt to Cesare Borgia." 

Behold how easy it is to dispense with evidence. 
So that your tale be well-salted and well-spiced, a 
fico for evidence ! If it hangs not overwell together 
in places, if there be contradictions, lacunae, or open- 
ings for doubt, fling the Verdict of History into 
the gap, and so strike any questioner into silence. 

So far have matters gone in this connection that who 
undertakes to set down to-day the history of Cesare 
Borgia, with intent to do just and honest work, must 
find it impossible to tell a plain and straightforward 
tale — to present him not as a villain of melodrama, not 
as a monster, ludicrous, grotesque, impossible, but as 
a human being, a cold, relentless egotist, it is true, 
using men for his own ends, terrible and even 
treacherous in his reprisals, swift as a panther and as 
cruel where his anger was aroused, yet with certain 
elements of greatness : a splendid soldier, an unrivalled 
administrator, a man pre-eminently just, if merciless 
in that same justice. 

To present Cesare Borgia thus in a plain straight- 
forward tale at this time of day, would be to provoke 
the scorn and derision of those who have made his 
acquaintance in the pages of that eminent German 
scholar, Ferdinand Gregorovius, and of some other 
writers not quite so eminent yet eminent enough to 
deserve serious consideration. Hence has it been 
necessary to examine at close quarters the findings of 
these great ones, and to present certain criticisms of 
those same findings. The author is overwhelmingly 
conscious of the invidious quality of that task ; but 
he is no less conscious of its inevitability if this tale 
is to be told at all. 

Whilst the actual sources of historical evidence 


shall be examined in the course of this narrative, it 
may be well to examine at this stage the sources of the 
popular conceptions of the Borgias, since there will 
be no occasion later to allude to them. 

Without entering here into a dissertation upon the 
historical romance, it may be said that in proper 
hands it has been and should continue to be one of 
the most valued and valuable expressions of the 
literary art. To render and maintain it so, however, 
it is necessary that certain well-defined limits should 
be set upon the licence which its writers are to enjoy ; 
it is necessary that the work should be honest work ; 
that preparation for it should be made by a sound, 
painstaking study of the period to be represented, 
to the end that a true impression may first be formed 
and then conveyed. Thus, considering how much 
more far-reaching is the novel than any other form 
of literature, the good results that must wait upon 
such endeavours are beyond question. The neglect of 
them — the distortion of character to suit the romancer's 
ends, the like distortion of historical facts, the gross 
anachronisms arising out of a lack of study, have done 
much to bring the historical romance into disrepute. 
Many writers frankly make no pretence — leastways 
none that can be discerned — of aiming at historical 
precision ; others, however, invest their work with 
a spurious scholarliness, go the length of citing 
authorities to support the point of view which they 
have taken, and which they lay before you as the fruit 
of strenuous lucubrations. 

These are the dangerous ones, and of this type is 
Victor Hugo's famous tragedy Lucrezia Borgia, a 
work to which perhaps more than to any other (not 
excepting Les Borgias in Crimes Celebres of Alexandre 
Dumas) is due the popular conception that prevails 
to-day of Cesare Borgia's sister. 

It is questionable whether anything has ever flowed 
from a distinguished pen in which so many licences 


have been taken with the history of individuals and of 
an epoch ; in which there is so rich a crop of crude, 
transpontine absurdities and flagrant, impossible 
anachronisms. Victor Hugo was a writer of rare 
gifts, a fertile romancer and a great poet, and it may- 
be unjust to censure him for having taken the fullest 
advantages of the licences conceded to both. But 
it would be difficult to censure him too harshly for 
having — in his Lucrezia Borgia — struck a pose of 
scholarliness, for having pretended and maintained 
that his work was honest work founded upon the 
study of historical evidences. With that piece of 
charlatanism he deceived the great mass of the un- 
lettered of France and of all Europe into believing 
that in his tragedy he presented the true Lucrezia 

" If you do not believe me," he declared, " read 
Tommaso Tommasi, read the Diary of Burchard." 

Read, then, that Diary, extending over a period of 
twenty- three years, from 1483 to 1506, of the Master 
of Ceremonies of the Vatican (which largely contributes 
the groundwork of the present history), and the one 
conclusion to which you will be forced is that Victor 
Hugo himself had never read it, else he would have 
hesitated to bid you refer to a work which does not 
support a single line that he has written. 

As for Tommaso Tommasi — oh, the danger of a 
little learning ! Into what quagmires does it not lead 
those who flaunt it to impress you ! 

Tommasi's place among historians is on precisely 
the same plane as Alexandre Dumas's. His Vita di 
Cesare Borgia is on the same historical level as Les 
BorgiaSy much of which it supplied. Like Crimes 
Celebres, Tommasi's book is invested with a certain 
air of being a narrative of sober fact ; but like Crimes 
Celebres, it is none the less a work of fiction. 

This Tommaso Tommasi, whose real name was 
Gregorio Leti — and it is under this that such works 


of his as are reprinted are published nowadays — was 
a most prolific author of the seventeenth century, who, 
having turned Calvinist, vented in his writings a 
mordacious hatred of the Papacy and of the religion 
from which he had seceded. His Life of Cesare 
Borgia was published in 1670. It enjoyed a consider- 
able vogue, was translated into French, and has been 
the chief source from which many writers of fiction and 
some writers of " fact " have drawn for subsequent 
work to carry forward the ceaseless defamation of 
the Borgias. 

History should be as inexorable as Divine Justice. 
Before we admit facts, not only should we call for 
evidence and analyse it when it is forthcoming, but 
the very sources of such evidence should be examined, 
that, as far as possible, we may ascertain what degree of 
credit they deserve. In the study of the history of 
the Borgias, we repeat, there has been too much accept- 
ance without question, too much taking for granted 
of matters whose incredibility frequently touches and 
occasionally oversteps the confines of the impossible. 

One man knew Cesare Borgia better, perhaps, than 
did any other contemporary, of the many who have 
left more or less valuable records ; for the mind of 
that man was the acutest of its age, one of the acutest 
Italy and the world have ever known. That man 
was Niccolo Macchiavelli, Secretary of State to the 
Signory of Florence. He owed no benefits to Cesare ; 
he was the ambassador of a power that was ever 
inimical to the Borgias ; so that it is not to be dreamt 
that his judgement suffered from any bias in Cesare's 
favour. Yet he accounted Cesare Borgia — as we shall 
see — the incarnation of an ideal conqueror and ruler ; 
he took Cesare Borgia as the model for his famous 
work 7he Prince, written as a grammar of statecraft 
for the instruction in the art of government of that 
weakling Giuliano de' Medici. 



Macchiavelli pronounces upon Cesare Borgia the 
following verdict : 

" // all the actions of the duke are taken into con- 
sideration^ it will be seen how great were the foundations 
he had laid to future 'power. Upon these I do not think 
it superfluous to discourse, because I should not know what 
better precept to lay before a new prince than the ex- 
ample of his actions ; and if success did not wait upon 
what dispositions he had made, that was through no 
fault of his own, but the result of an extraordinary and 
extreme malignity of fortuned 

In its proper place shall be considered what else 
Macchiavelli had to say of Cesare Borgia and what to 
report of events that he witnessed connected with 
Cesare Borgia's career. 

Meanwhile, the above summary of Macchiavelli's 
judgement is put forward as a justification for the 
writing of this book, which has for scope to present 
to you the Cesare Borgia who served as the model for 
T^he Prince. 

Before doing so, however, there is the rise of the 
House of Borgia to be traced, and in the first two of 
the four books into which this history will be divided 
it is Alexander VI, rather than his son, who will hold 
the centre of the stage. 

If the author has a mercy to crave of his critics, 
it is that they will not impute it to him that he has 
set out with the express aim of " whitewashing " — as 
the term goes — the family of Borgia. To whitewash 
is to overlay, to mask the original fabric under a 
superadded surface. Too much superadding has there 
been here already. By your leave, all shall be stripped 
away. The grime shall be removed and the foulness 
of inference, of surmise, of deliberate and cold-blooded 
malice, with which centuries of scribblers, idle, fan- 



tastic, sensational, or venal, have coated the substance 
of known facts. 

But the grime shall be preserved and analysed side 
by side with the actual substance, that you may judge 
if out of zeal to remove the former any of the latter 
shall have been included in the scraping. 

The author expresses his indebtedness to the 
following works which, amongst others, have been 
studied for the purposes of the present history : 

Alvisi, Odoardo, Cesare Borgia^ Duca di Romagna. Imola, 1878. 
Auton, Jean d', Chroniques de Louis XII (Soc. de VHist. de France). 

Paris, 1889. 
Baldi, Bernardino, Delia Vita e Fatti di Guidobaldo. Milano, 1821. 
Barthelemy, Charles, Erreurs et Mensonges Historiques. Paris, 1873. 
Bernardi, Andrea, Cronache Forlivese, 1476-15 17. Bologna, 1897. 
Bonnaffe, Edmond, Inventaire de la Duchesse de Valentinois, Paris, 

Bonoli, Paolo, Istorie delta Cittd di Forli. Forli, 1661. 
Bourdeilles, Pierre, Fie des Hommes Illustres. Leyde, 1666. 
Brown, Rawdon, Ragguagli Sulla Vita e sulle Of ere di Marino Sanuto. 

Venezia, 1837. 
Buonaccorsi, Biagio, Diario. Firenze, 1568. 
Burchard, Joannes, Diarium^ sive Rerum Urbanarum Commentarii. 

(Edited by L. Thuasne.) Paris, 1885. 
Burckhardt, Jacob, Der Cultur der Renaissance in Italien. Basel, i860. 
Castiglione, Baldassare, // Cortigiano. Firenze, 1885. 
Chapelles, Grillon des, Esquisses Biographiques. Paris, 1862.. 
Cerri, Domenico, Borgia. Torino, 1857. 
Clementini, Cesare, Raccolto Istorico delle Fondatione di Rimino, 

Rimini, 1617. 
Corio, Bernardino, Storia di Milano. Milano, 1885. 
Corvo, Baron, Chronicles of the House of Borgia. London, 1901. 
Espinois, Henri de 1', Le Pape Alexandre VI (in the Revue des 

Questions Historiques^ Vol. XXIX). Paris, 188 1. 
Giovio, Paolo, La Vita di Dicenove Uomini Illustri. Venetia, 1561. 
Giovio, Paolo, Delle Istorie del Suo Tempo. Venetia, 1608. 
Giustiniani, Antonio, Dispacci, 1502-1505. (Edited by Pasquale 

Villari.) Firenze, 1876. 
Granata, F., Storia Civile di Capua. 1752. 
Gregorovius, Ferdinand, Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter, 

Stuttgart, 1889W 


Gregorovius, Ferdinand, Lucrezia Borgia (Italian translation). Firenze, 

Guicciardini, Francesco, Istoria d^ Italia. Milan, 1803. 
Guingene, P. L., Histoire Litter aire (Tltalie. Milano, 1820. 
Infessura, Stefano, Diarum Rerum Romanum. (Edited by O. Tom- 

massini.) Roma, 1887. 
Leonetti, A., Papa Alessandro VI. Bologna, 1880. 
Leti, Gregorio (" Tommaso Tommasi "), Vita di Cesare Borgia, 

Milano, 1851. 
Lucaire, Achille, Alain le Grand, Sire d'Albret. Paris, 1877. 
Macchiavelli, Niccolo, II Principe. Torino, 1853. 
Macchiavelli, Niccolo, Le Istorie Fiorentine. Firenze, 1848. 
Macchiavelli, Niccolo, Opere Minori. Firenze, 1852. 
Matarazzo, Francesco, Cronaca della Cittd di Perugia, 1 492-1 503. 

(Edited by F. Bonaini and F. Polidori.) In Archivio Storico 

Italiano, Firenze, 1851. 
Panvinio, Onofrio, Le Vite dei Pontefici. Venezia, 1730. 
Pascale, Aq., Racconto del Sacco di Capova. Napoli, 1632. 
Righi, B., Annali di Faenza. Faenza, 1 841. 
Sanazzaro, Opere. Padua, 1723. 
Sanuto Marino, Diarii, Vols. I to V. (Edited by F. Stefani.) Venice, 

Tartt, W. M., Pandolfo Collenuccio ; Memoirs connected with his life. 

" Tommaso Tommasi " (Gregorio Leti), Vita di Cesare Borgia. 1789. 
Varchi, Benedetto, Storia Fiorentina. Florence, 1858. 
Vasari, Gustavo, Vita degli Artefici. 
Villari, Pasquale, La Storia di Girolamo Savonarola, etc. Florence, 

Villari, Pasquale, Niccolo Machiavelli e i suoi Tempi. Milano, 1895. 
Yriarte, Charles, La Vie de Cesar Borgia. Paris, 1889. 
Yriarte, Charles, Autour des Borgia. Paris, 1891. 
Zurita, Geronimo, Historia del Rey Don Hernando el Catolico (in 

Anales). ^aragoca, 1610. 




I. The Rise of the House of Borgia . 



II. The Reigns of Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII 40 
III. Alexander VI ...... 61 

IV. Borgia Alliances ..... 80 


I. The French Invasion . 
II. The Pope and the S*upernatural . 
III. The Roman Barons 

IV. The Murder of the Duke of Gandia 

V. The Renunciation of the Purple 







I. The Duchess of Valentinois . 

II. The Knell of the Tyrants 

III. Imola and Forli 

IV. Gonfalonier of the Church . 

V. The MtjRDER of Alfonso of Aragon 
VI. Rimini and Pesaro . 
VII. The Siege of Faenza 


IX. Castel Bolognese and Piombino 
X. The End of the House of Aragon 
XI. The Letter to Silvio Savelli 
XII. Lucrezia's Third Marriage 
XIIL Urbino and Camerino 
XIV. The Revolt of the Condottieri 
XV. Macchiavelli's Legation . 
XVI. Ramiro de Lorqua . 
XVII. " The Beautiful Stratagem " . 
XVIII. The Zenith .... 





I. The Death of Alexander VI 

II. Pius III 
III. Julius II 
IV. Atropos 





Cesare Borgia ....... Frontispiece 

(From a contemporary portrait; painter unknown.) 


Pope Calixtus III (Alfonso Borgia) • . • • 33 

(Prom the medal by Andrea Guazzalotti.) 

Coronation of Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini) . 51 

(From the freeco by Pinturlcchio.) 
Pope Sixtus IV (Francesco della Rovere) giving Audience 
TO THE Historian Platina (kneeling), presented by 
Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere . . • . 69 

(Prom the fresco by Melozzo.) 

The Interior of the Sistine Chapel . . . - . 87 

Medal of Charles VIII of France 105 

Duke Lodovico Maria Sforza 123 

(From the fresco by Bernardino Luini.) 

Pope Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia) . . . .141 

(From the fresco by Pinturicchio.) 
The Castle and Bridge of Sant'Angelo (Rome) . . 159 
Alleged Portrait of Cesare Borgia, by Giorgione • . 177 

(In the Pinacoteca Comunale, Forli.) 

Caterina Sforza- Riario . . . . . .211 

(From the fresco by Gustavo Vasari.) 

LucREZiA Borgia • • • 245 

(From a contemporary portrait in the Museum of Nfancs.) 


24 LIST OF illustratio:ns 



(From the portrait by I^eonardo Scaletti.) 

Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara . . , . .313 
(From the portrait by Dosso Dossi.) 

Alleged Portrait of Cesare Borgia, attributed to Raffaele 

Sanzio 347 

(In the Borghese Gallery, Rome.) 

Cardinal Ascanio Sforza 381 

(From the fresco by Bernardino Luini.) 

Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere) . . .415 

(From the portrait by Rafiaele Sanzio.) 

Autograph Letter of Cesare Borgia to Isabella Gonzaga 452 

(From the Gonzaga Archives in Mantua.) 

Cover Design — Arms of Cesare Borgia. 

(From the marble panel in the wall of the Castle of the Forli.) 


" Borgia stirps : BOS : atque Ceres transcend^t Olympo, 
Cantabat nomen saecula cuncta suum." 

MicwELE Ferno 




Although the House of Borgia, which gave to the 
Church of Rome two popes and at least one saint,^ 
is to be traced back to the eleventh century, claiming 
as it does to have its source in the Kings of Aragon, 
we shall take up its history for our purposes with the 
birth at the city of Xativa, in the kingdom of Valencia, 
on December 30, 1378, of Alonso de Borja, the son of 
Don Juan Domingo de Borja and his wife Dofia 

To this Don Alonso de Borja is due the rise of his 
family to its stupendous eminence. An able, upright, 
vigorous-minded man, he became a Professor and Doctor 
of Jurisprudence at the University of Lerida, and 
afterwards served Alfonso I of Aragon, King of Naples 
and the Two Sicilies, in the capacity of secretary. 
This office he filled with the distinction that was to be 
expected from one so peculiarly fitted for it by* the 
character of the studies he had pursued. 

He was made Bishop of Valencia, created Cardinal 
in 1444, and finally — in 1455 — ascended the throne 
of St. Peter as Calixtus HI, an old man, enfeebled 
in body, but with his extraordinary vigour of mind all 

Calixtus proved himself as much a nepotist as many 
another Pope before and since. This needs not to 

* St. Francisco Borgia, S.J. — great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI, 
born at Gandia, in Spain^ in 15 10. 



be dilated upon here ; suffice it that in February of 
1456 he gave the scarlet hat of Cardinal-Deacon of 
San Niccolo, in Carcere Tulliano, to his nephew Don 
Roderigo de Lanzol y Borja. 

Born in 143 1 at Xativa, the son of Juana de Borja 
(sister of Calixtus) and her husband Don J of re de 
Lanzol, Roderigo was in his twenty-fifth year at 
the time of his being raised to the purple, and in the 
following year he was further created Vice-Chancellor 
of Holy Church with an annual stipend of eight 
thousand florins. Like his uncle he had studied 
jurisprudence — at the University of Bologna — and 
mentally and physically he was extraordinarily en- 

From the pen-portraits left of him by Gasparino of 
Verona, and Girolamo Porzio, we know him for a tall, 
handsome man with black eyes and full lips, elegant, 
courtly, joyous, and choicely eloquent, of such health 
and vigour and endurance that he was insensible to 
any fatigue. Giasone Maino of Milan refers to his 
" elegant appearance, serene brow, royal glance, a 
countenance that at once expresses generosity and 
majesty, and the genial and heroic air with which his 
whole personality is invested." To a similar descrip- 
tion of him Gasparino adds that '' all women upon whom 
he so much as casts his eyes he moves to love him ; 
attracting them as the lodestone attracts iron ; " which 
is, it must be admitted, a most undesirable reputation 
in a churchman. 

A modern historian ^ who uses little restraint when 
writing of Roderigo Borgia says of him that "he 
was a man of neither much energy nor determined 
will," and further that " the firmness and energy 
wanting to his character were, however, often re- 
placed by the constancy of his evil passions, by which 
he was almost blinded." How the constancy of evil 
passions can replace firmness and energy as factors 
* Pasquale Villari in his Machiavelli e suoi femfi. 


of worldly success is not readily discernible, particu- 
larly if their possessor is blinded by them. The 
historical worth of the stricture may safely be left 
to be measured by its logical value. For the rest, to 
say that Roderigo Borgia was wanting in energy and 
in will is to say something to which his whole career 
gives the loud and derisive lie, as will — to some extent 
at least — be seen in the course of this work. 

His honours as Cardinal-Deacon and Vice-Chancellor 
of the Holy See he owed to his uncle ; but that he 
maintained and constantly improved his position — 
and he a foreigner, be it remembered — under the 
reigns of the four succeeding Popes — Pius H, Paul H, 
Sixtus IV, and Innocent VIII — until finally, six- 
and-twenty years after the death of Calixtus III, 
he ascended, himself, the Papal Throne, can be due 
only to the unconquerable energy and stupendous 
talents which have placed him where he stands in 
history — one of the greatest forces, for good or ill, 
that ever occupied St. Peter's Chair. 

Say of him that he was ambitious, worldly, greedy 
of power, and a prey to carnal lusts. All these he was. 
But for very sanity's sake do not let it be said that he 
was wanting either in energy or in will, for he was 
energy and will incarnate. 

Consider that with Calixtus Ill's assumption of 
the Tiara Rome became the Spaniard's happy hunting- 
ground, and that into the Eternal City streamed in 
their hundreds the Catalan adventurers — priests, 
clerks, captains of fortune, and others — who came to 
seek advancement at the hands of a Catalan Pope. 
This Spanish invasion Rome resented. She grew 
restive under it. 

Roderigo's elder brother, Don Pedro Luis de Lanzol 
y Borja, was made Gonfalonier of the Church, Cas- 
tellan of all pontifical fortresses and Governor of 
the Patrimony of St. Peter, with the title of Duke of 
Spoleto and, later. Prefect of Rome, to the displace- 


ment of an Orsini from that office. Calixtus invested 
this nephew with all temporal power that it was in 
the Church's privilege to bestow, to the end that he 
might use it as a basis to overset the petty tyrannies 
of Romagna, and to establish a feudal claim on the 
Kingdom of Naples. 

Here already we see more than a hint of that Borgia 
ambition which was to become a byword, and the 
first attempt of this family to found a dynasty for 
itself and a State that should endure beyond the tran- 
sient tenure of the Pontificate, an aim that was later 
to be carried into actual — if ephemeral — fulfilment 
by Cesare Borgia. 

The Italians watched this growth of Spanish power 
with jealous, angry eyes. The mighty House of Orsini, 
angered by the supplanting of one of its members in 
the Prefecture of Rome, kept its resentment warm, 
and waited. When in August of 1458 Calixtus HI 
lay dying, the Orsini seized the chance : they incited 
the city to ready insurgence, and with fire and sword 
they drove the Spaniards out. 

Don Pedro Luis made haste to depart, contrived to 
avoid the Orsini, who had made him their special quarry, 
and getting a boat slipped down the Tiber to Civita 
Vecchia, where he died suddenly some six weeks later, 
thereby considerably increasing the wealth of Roderigo, 
his brother and his heir. 

Roderigo's cousin, Don Luis Juan, Cardinal-Pres- 
byter of Santi Quattro Coronati, another member of 
the family who owed his advancement to his uncle 
Calixtus, thought it also expedient to withdraw from 
that zone of danger to men of his nationality and 

Roderigo de Lanzol y Borja alone remained — least- 
ways, the only prominent member of his house — 
boldly to face the enmity of the majority of the 
Sacred College, which had looked with grim disfavour 
upon his uncle's nepotism. Unintimidated, he en- 


tered the Conclave for the election of a successor to 
Calixtus, and there the chance which so often prefers 
to bestow its favours upon him who knows how to 
profit hy them, gave him the opportunity to establish 
himself as firmly as ever at the Vatican, and further 
to advance his interests. 

It fell out that when the scrutiny was taken, two 
cardinals stood well in votes — the brilliant, cultured 
Enea Silvio Bartolomeo de' Piccolomini, Cardinal of 
Siena, and the French Cardinal d'Estouteville — though 
neither had attained the minimum majority demanded. 
Of these two, the lead in number of votes lay with the 
Cardinal of Siena, and his election therefore might 
be completed by Accession — that is, by the voices of 
such cardinals as had not originally voted for him — 
until the minimum majority, which must exceed 
two-thirds, should be made up. 

The Cardinal Vice-Chancellor Roderigo de Lanzol y 
Borja led this accession, with the result that the Cardinal 
of Siena became Pontiff — as Pius II — and was naturally 
enough disposed to advance the interests of the man 
who had been instrumental in helping him to that 
eminence. Thus, his position at the Vatican, in the 
very face of all hostility, became stronger and more 
prominent than ever. 

A letter written two years later from the Baths 
I at Petriolo by Pius II to Roderigo when the latter 
i was in Siena — whither he had been sent by his Holiness 
; to superintend the building of the Cathedral and the 
' Episcopal and Piccolomini palaces — is frequently 
cited by way of establishing the young prelate's dis- 
solute ways. It is a letter at once stern and affection- 
ate, and it certainly leaves no doubt as to what manner 
of man was the Cardinal Vice-Chancellor in his private 
life, and to what manner of unecclesiastical pursuits 
he inclined. It is difficult to discover in it any grounds 
upon which an apologist may build. 


" Beloved Son, 

" When four days ago, in the gardens of Gio- 
vanni de Bichis, were assembled several women of 
Siena addicted to worldly vanity, your worthiness, 
as we have learnt, little remembering the office 
which you fill, was entertained by them from the 
seventeenth to the twenty-second hour. For com- 
panion you had one of your colleagues, one whom his 
years if not the honour of the Holy See should have 
reminded of his duty. From what we have heard, 
dancing was unrestrainedly indulged, and not one of 
love's attractions was absent, whilst your behaviour 
was no different from that which might have been 
looked for in any worldly youth. Touching what 
happened there, modesty imposes silence. Not only 
the circumstance itself, but the very name of it is 
unworthy in one of your rank. The husbands, parents, 
brothers, and relations of these young women were 
excluded, in order that your amusements should be 
the more unbridled. You with a few servants under- 
took to direct and lead those dances. It is said that 
nothing is now talked of in Siena but your frivolity. 
Certain it is that here at the baths, where the concourse 
of ecclesiastics and laity is great, you are the topic of 
the day. Our displeasure is unutterable, since all 
this reflects dishonourably upon the sacerdotal estate 
and office. It will be said of us that we are enriched 
and promoted not to the end that we may lead blameless 
lives, but that we may procure the means to indulge 
our pleasures. Hence the contempt of us entertained 
by temporal princes and powers and the daily sarcasms 
of the laity. Hence also the reproof of our own 
mode of life when we attempt to reprove others. 
The very Vicar of Christ is involved in this contempt, 
since he appears to countenance such things. You, 
beloved son, have charge of the Bishopric of Valencia, 
the first of Spain ; you are also Vice-Chancellor of 
the Church ; and what renders your conduct still 

(From the medal by Andrea Guazzalotti.) 



more blameworthy is that you are among the cardinals, 
with the Pope, one of the counsellors of the Holy 
See. We submit it to your own judgement whether 
it becomes your dignity to court young women, to 
send fruit and wine to her you love, and to have no 
thought for anything but pleasure. We are censured 
on your account ; the blessed memory of your uncle 
Calixtus is vituperated, since in the judgement of 
many he was wrong to have conferred so many honours 
upon you. If you seek excuses in your youth, you 
are no longer so young that you cannot understand 
what duties are imposed upon you by your dignity. 
A cardinal should be irreproachable, a model of moral 
conduct to all. And what just cause have we for 
resentment when temporal princes bestow upon us 
titles that are little honourable, dispute with us our 
possessions, and attempt to bend us to their will ? 
In truth it is we who inflict these wounds upon our- 
selves, and it is we who occasion ourselves these troubles, 
undermining more and more each day by our deeds 
the authority of the Church. Our guerdon is shame 
in this world and condign punishment in the next. 
May your prudence therefore set a restraint upon these 
vanities and keep you mindful of your dignity, and 
prevent that you be known for a gallant among married 
and unmarried women. But should similar facts re- 
cur, we shall be compelled to signify that they have 
happened against our will and to our sorrow, and our 
censure must be attended by your shame. We have 
always loved you, and we have held you worthy of 
our favour as a man of upright and honest nature. 
Act therefore in such a manner that we may maintain 
such an opinion of you, and nothing can better conduce 
to this than that you should lead a well-ordered life. 
Your age, which is such as still to promise im- 
provement, admits that we should admonish you 

"Petriolo, June ii, 1460." 



Such a letter is calculated to shock us in our modern 
notions of a churchman. To us this conduct on the 
part of a prelate is scandalous beyond words ; that it 
was scandalous even then is obvious from the Pontiff's 
letter ; but that it was scandalous in an infinitely lesser 
degree is no less obvious from the very fact that the 
Pontiff wrote that letter (and in such terms) instead 
of incontinently unfrocking the offender. 

In considering Roderigo's conduct, you are to con- 
sider — as has been urged already — the age in which he 
lived. You are to remember that it was an age in 
which the passions and the emotions wore no such 
masks as they wear to-day, but went naked and knew 
no shame of their nudity ; an age in which personal 
modesty was as little studied as hypocrisy, and in 
which men wore their vices as openly as their virtues. 

Isjo amount of simple statement can convey an 
adequate notion of the corrupt state of the clergy 
at the time. To form any just appreciation of this, 
It is necessary to take a peep at some of the documents 
that have survived — such a document, for instance, 
as that Bull of this Pope Pius II which forbade priests 
from plying the trades of keeping taverns, gaming- 
houses, and brothels. 

Ponder also that under his successor, Sixtus IV, 
the tax levied upon the courtesans of Rome enriched 
the pontifical coffers to the extent of some 20,000 
ducats yearly. Ponder further that when the vicar 
of the libidinous Innocent VIII published in 1490 
an edict against the universal concubinage practised 
by the clergy, forbidding its continuation under pain 
of excommunication, all that it earned him was the 
severe censure of the Holy Father, who disagreed 
with the measure and who straightway repealed and 
cancelled the edict.* 

All this being considered, and man being admittedly 

a creature of his environment, can we still pretend to 

1 See Burchard's Dtartum^ Thuasne Edition, Vol. II. p. 442 et seq. 


horror at this Roderigo and at the fact that being 
the man he was — prelate though he might be — hand- 
some, brilliant, courted, in the full vigour of youth, 
and a voluptuary by nature, he should have succumbed 
to the temptations by which he was surrounded ? 

One factor only could have caused him to use more 
restraint — the good example of his peers. That 
example he most certainly had not. 

Virtue is a comparative estate, when all is said ; and 
before we can find that Roderigo was vile, that he 
deserves unqualified condemnation for his conduct, 
we must ascertain that he was more or less exceptional 
in his licence, that he was less scrupulous than his 
fellows. Do we find that ? To find the contrary 
we do not need to go beyond the matter which pro- 
voked that letter from the Pontiff. For we see that 
he was not even alone, as an ecclesiastic, in the adven- 
ture ; that he had for associate on that amorous frolic 
one Giacopo Ammanati, Cardinal-Presbyter of San 
Crisogno, Roderigo's senior and an ordained priest, 
which — without seeking to make undue capital out 
of the circumstance — we may mention that Roderigo 
was not. He was a Cardinal-Deacon, be it remem- 
bered.* We know that the very Pontiff who admon- 
ished these young prelates, though now admittedly a 
man of saintly ways, had been a very pretty fellow 
himself in his lusty young days in Siena ; we know 
that Roderigo's uncle — the Calixtus to whom Pius H 
refers in that letter as of " blessed memory " — had 
at least one acknowledged son.^ We know that Piero 
and Girolamo Riario, though styled by Pope Sixtus IV 
his " nephews," were generally recognized to be his 
sons.' And we know that the numerous bastards 
of Innocent VIII — Roderigo's immediate precursor 

1 He was not ordained priest until 1471, after the election of 
Sixtus IV. 

2 Don Francisco de Borja, born at Valencia in 1441. 
^ Macchiavelli, Istorie Florentine. 


on the Pontifical Throne — were openly acknowledged 
by their father. We know, in short, that it was the 
universal custom of the clergy to forget its vows of 
celibacy, and to circumvent them by dispensing with 
the outward form and sacrament of marriage ; and we 
have it on the word of Pius II himself, that " if 
there are good reasons for enjoining the celibacy of 
the clergy, there are better and stronger for enjoining 
them to marry." 

What more is there to say ? If we must be scan- 
dalized, let us be scandalized by the times rather than 
by the man. Upon what reasonable grounds can 
we demand that he should be different from his 
fellows ; and if we find him no different, what right or 
reason have we for picking him out and rendering 
him the object of unparalleled obloquy ? 

If we are to deal justly with Roderigo Borgia, we 
must admit that, in so far as his concessions to his lusts 
are concerned, he was a typical churchman of his day ; 
neither more nor less — as will presently grow abun- 
dantly clear. 

It may be objected by some that had such been the 
case the Pope would not have written him such a 
letter as is here cited. But consider a moment the 
close relations existing between them. Roderigo was 
the nephew of the late Pope ; in a great measure 
Pius II owed his election, as we have seen, to Roderigo's 
action in the Conclave. That his interest in him 
apart from that was paternal and affectionate is shown 
in every line of that letter. And consider further that 
Roderigo's companion is shown by that letter to be 
equally guilty in so far as the acts themselves are 
to be weighed, guilty in a greater degree when we 
remember his seniority and his actual priesthood. Yet 
to Cardinal Ammanati the Pope wrote no such 
admonition. Is not that sufficient proof that his 
admonition of Roderigo was dictated purely by his 
personal affection for him ? 


In this same year 1460 was born to Cardinal 
Roderigo a son — Don Pedro Luis de Borja — by a 
spinster (mulier soluta) unnamed. This son was 
publicly acknowledged and cared for by the cardinal. 

Seven years later — in 1467 — he became the father 
of a daughter — Girolama de Borja — by a spinster, 
whose name again does not transpire. Like Pedro 
Luis she too was openly acknowledged by Cardinal 
Roderigo. It was widely believed that this child's 
mother was Madonna Giovanna de' Catanei, who 
soon became quite openly the cardinal's mistress, 
and was maintained by him in such state as might 
have become a mattresse en titre. But, as we shall 
see later, the fact of that maternity of Girolama is 
doubtful in the extreme. It was never established, 
and it is difficult to understand why not if it were 
the fact. 

Meanwhile Paul II — Pietro Barbo, Cardinal of 
Venice — had succeeded Pius II in 1464, and in 1471 
the latter was in his turn succeeded by the formidable 
Sixtus IV — Cardinal Francesco Maria della Rovere 
— a Franciscan of the lowest origin, who by his energy 
and talents had become general of his order and had 
afterwards been raised to the dignity of the purple. 

It was Cardinal Roderigo de Lanzol y Borja who, 
in his official capacity of Archdeacon of Holy Church, 
performed the ceremony of coronation and placed 
the triple crown on the head of Pope Sixtus. It is 
probable that this was his last official act as Arch- 
deacon, for in that same year 1471, at the age of forty, 
he was ordained priest and consecrated Bishop of 



The rule of Sixtus was as vigorous as it was scandalous. 
To say — as has been said — that with his succession 
to St. Peter's Chair came for the Church a still sadder 
time than that which had preceded it, is not alto- 
gether true. Politically, at least, Sixtus did much 
to strengthen the position of the Holy See and of the 
Pontificate. He was not long in giving the Roman 
factions a taste of his stern quality. If he employed 
unscrupulous means, he employed them against 
unscrupulous men — on the sound principle of similia 
similihus curantur — and to some extent they were 
justified by the ends in view. 

He found the temporal throne of the Pontiffs 
tottering when he ascended it. Stefano Porcaro and 
his distinguished following already in 1453 had 
attempted the overthrow of the pontifical authority, 
inspired, no doubt, by the attacks that had been 
levelled against it by the erudite and daring Lorenzo 

This Valla was the distinguished translator of Homer, 
Herodotus, and Thucydides, who more than any one of 
his epoch advanced the movement of Greek and Latin 
learning, which, whilst it had the effect of arresting 
the development of Italian literature, enriched Europe 
by opening up to it the sources of ancient erudition, v 
of philosophy, poetry, and literary taste. Towards the 
year 1435 he drifted to the court of Alfonso of Aragon, 
whose secretary he ultimately became. Some years 
later he attacked the Temporal Power and urged the 



secularization of the States of the Church. " Ut 
Papa," he wrote, " tantum Vicarius Christi sit, et non 
etiam Coesari." In his De falso credita et ementita 
Constantini Donatione^ he showed that the decretals 
of the Donation of Constantine, upon which rests the 
Pope's claim to the Pontifical States, was an impudent 
forgery, that Constantine had never had the power to 
give, nor had given, Rome to the Popes, and that they 
had no right to govern there. He backed up this terrible 
indictment by a round attack upon the clergy, its 
general corruption and its practices of simony ; and as 
a result he fell into the hands of the Inquisition. 
There it might have gone very ill with him but that 
King Alfonso rescued him from the clutches of that 
dread priestly tribunal. 

Meanwhile, he had fired his petard. If a pretext 
had been wanting to warrant the taking up of arms 
against the Papacy, that pretext Valla had afforded. 
Never was the temporal power of the Church in 
such danger, and ultimately it must inevitably have 
succumbed but for the coming of so strong and 
unscrupulous a man as Sixtus IV to stamp out the 
patrician factions that were heading the hostile 

His election, it is generally admitted, was simoniacal ; 
and by simony he raised the funds necessary for his 
campaign to re-establish and support the papal 
authority. This simony of his, says Dr. Jacob Burck- 
hardt, " grew to unheard-of proportions, and extended 
from the appointment of cardinals down to the sale 
of the smallest benefice." 

Had he employed these means of raising funds for 
none but the purpose of putting down the assailants 
of the Pontificate, a measure of justification (political 
if not ecclesiastical) might be argued in his favour. 
Unfortunately, having discovered these ready sources 
of revenue, he continued to exploit them for purposes 
far less easy to condone. 


As a nepotist Sixtus was almost unsurpassed in the 
history of the Papacy. Four of his nephews and 
their aggrandizement were the particular objects of 
his attentions, and two of these — as we have already 
said — Piero and Girolamo Riario, were universally 
recognized to be his sons. 

Piero, who was a simple friar of twenty-six years of 
age at the time that his father became Pope, was 
given the Archbishopric of Florence, made Patriarch 
of Constantinople, and created Cardinal to the title 
of San Sisto, with a revenue of 60,000 crowns. 

We have it on the word of Cardinal Ammanati ^ — 
the same gentleman who, with Roderigo de Lanzol 
y Borja made so scandalously merry in de Bichis' 
garden at Siena — that Cardinal Riario's luxury 
" exceeded all that had been displayed by our fore- 
fathers or that can even be imagined by our descend- 
ants " ; and Macchiavelli tells us * that " although 
of very low origin and mean rearing, no sooner had 
he obtained the scarlet hat than he displayed a pride 
and ambition so vast that the Pontificate seemed too 
small for him, and he gave a feast in Rome which 
would have appeared extraordinary even for a king, 
the expense exceeding 20,000 florins." 

Knowing so much, it is not difficult to understand 
that in one year or less he should have dissipated 
200,000 florins, and found himself in debt to the 
extent of a further 60,000. 

In 1473, Sixtus being at the time all but at war 
with Florence, this Cardinal Riario visited Venice and 
Milan. In the latter State he was planning with 
Duke Galeazzo Maria that the latter should become 
King of Lombardy, and then assist him with money 
and troops to master Rome and ascend the Papal 
Throne — which, it appears, Sixtus was quite willing 
to yield to him — thus putting the Papacy on a here- 
ditary basis like any other secular State. 
. 1 In a letter to Francesco Gonzaga. ^ Istorie Florentine, 


It is as well, perhaps, that he should have died on 
his return to Rome in January of 1474 — worn out 
by his excesses and debaucheries, say some ; of poison 
administered by the Venetians, say others — leaving 
a mass of debts, contracted in his transactions with 
the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, to be cleared up 
by the Vicar of Christ. 

His brother Girolamo, meanwhile, had married 
Caterina Sforza, a natural daughter of Duke Galeazzo 
Maria. She brought him as her dowry the City of 
Imola, and in addition to this he received from his 
Holiness the City of Forli, to which end the Ordelaffi 
were dispossessed of it. Here again we have a papal 
attempt to found a family dynasty, and an attempt 
that might have been carried further under circum- 
stances more propitious and had not Death come to 
check their schemes. 

The only one of the four " nephews " of Sixtus — 
and to this one was imputed no nearer kinship — who 
was destined to make any lasting mark in history was 
Giuliano__della_Roverei_ He was raised by his uncle 
to the purple with the title of San Pietro in Vincoli, 
and thirty-two years later he was to become Pope 
(as Julius H). Of him we shall hear much in the 
course of this story. 

Under the pontificate of Sixtus IV the position 
and influence of Cardinal Roderigo were greatly 
increased, for once again the Spanish Cardinal had 
made the most of his opportunities. As at the election 
of Pius II, so at the election of Sixtus IV it was 
Cardinal Roderigo who led the act of accession which 
gave the new Pope his tiara, and for this act Roderigo — 
in common with the Cardinals Orsini and Gonzaga 
who acceded with him — was richly rewarded and 
advanced, receiving as his immediate guerdon the 
wealthy Abbey of Subiaco. 

At about this time, 1470, must have begun the rela- 
tions between Cardinal Roderigo andGiovanna Catanei, 


or Vannozza Catanei, as she is styled in contemporary 
documents — Vannozza being a corruption or abbrevia- 
tion of Giovannozza, an affectionate form of Giovanna. 

Who she was, or whence she came, are facts that have 
never been ascertained. She is generally assumed to 
have been a Roman ; but there are no obvious grounds 
for the assumption, her name, for instance, being 
common to many parts of Italy. And just as we have 
no sources of information upon her origin, neither 
have we any elements from which to paint her portrait. 
Gregorovius rests the probability that she was beautiful 
upon the known characteristics and fastidious tastes 
of the cardinal. Since it is unthinkable that such a 
man would have been captivated by an ugly woman or 
would have been held by a stupid one, it is fairly 
reasonable to conclude that she was beautiful and 

All that we do know of her up to the time of her 
liaison with Cardinal Roderigo is that she was born 
on July 13, 1442, this fact being ascertainable by a 
simple calculation from the elements afforded by the 
inscription on her tomb in Santa Maria del Popolo : 

Vix ann. lxxvi m. iv d. xii Objit anno mdxviii xxvi, Nov. 

And again, just as we know nothing of her family 
origin, neither have we any evidence of what her 
circumstances were when she caught the magnetic eye 
of Cardinal Roderigo de Lanzol y Borja — or Borgia 
as by now his name,which had undergone italianization, 
was more generally spelled. 

Infessura states in his diaries that Roderigo desiring 
later — as Pope Alexander VI — to create cardinal 
his son by her, Cesare Borgia, he caused false witness 
to be borne to the fact that Cesare was the legitimate 
son of one Domenico d'Arignano, to whom he, the 
Pope, had in fact married her. Guicciardini ^ makes 

* Jstoria d^ Italia. 


the same statement, without, however, mentioning 
the name of this d'Arignano. 

Now, bastards were by canon law excluded from the 
purple, and it is probably upon this circumstance 
that both Infessura and Guicciardini have built the 
assumption that some such means as these had been 
adopted to circumvent the law, and — as so often 
happens in chronicles concerning the Borgias — the 
assumption is straightway stated as a fact. But there 
were other ways of circumventing awkward command- 
ments, and, unfortunately for the accuracy of these 
statements of Infessura and Guicciardini, another 
way was taken in this instance. As early as 1480, 
Pope Sixtus IV had granted Cesare Borgia — in a Bull 
dated October i^ — dispensation from proving the 
legitimacy of his birth. This entirely removed the 
necessity for any such subsequent measures as those 
which are suggested by these chroniclers. 

Moreover, had Cardinal Roderigo desired to fasten 
the paternity of Cesare on another, there was ready 
to his hand Vannozza's actual husband, Giorgio della 
Croce.* When exactly this man became her husband 
is not to be ascertained. All that we know is that he 
was so in 1480, and that she was living with him in 
that year in a house in Piazza Pizzo di Merlo (now 
Piazza Sforza Cesarini) not far from the house on 
Banchi Vecchi which Cardinal Roderigo, as Vice- 
Chancellor, had converted into a palace for himself, 
and a palace so sumptuous as to excite the wonder of 
that magnificent age. 

This Giorgio della Croce was a Milanese, under 
the protection of Cardinal Roderigo, who had obtained 
for him a post at the Vatican as apostolic secretary. 
According to some, he married him to Vannozza in 
order to afford her an official husband and thus cloak 

1 See the supplement to the Appendix of Thuasne's edition of 
Burchard's Diarium. 

* D'Arignano is as much a fiction as the rest of Infessura's story. 


his own relations with her. It is an assumption which 
you will hesitate to accept. If we know our Cardinal 
Roderigo at all, he was never the man to pursue his 
pleasures in a hole-and-corner fashion, nor one to be- 
think him of a cloak for his amusements. Had he 
^but done so, scandalmongers would have had less to 
fasten upon in their work of playing havoc with his 
reputation. What is far more likely is that della 
Croce owed Cardinal Roderigo's protection and 
the appointment as apostolic secretary to his own 
complacency in the matter of his wife's relations 
with the splendid prelate. However we look at it, 
the figure cut in this story by della Croce is not 

Between the years 1474 and 1476, Vannozza bore 
Roderigo two sons, Cesare Borgia (afterwards Cardinal 
of Valencia and Duke of Valentinois), the central figure 
of our story, and Giovanni Borgia (afterwards Duke 
of Gandia). 

Lucrezia Borgia, we know from documentary 
evidence before us, was born on April 19, 1479. 

But there is a mystery about the precise respective 
ages of Vannozza's two eldest sons, and we fear that at 
this time of day it has become impossible to establish 
beyond reasonable doubt which was the firstborn ; 
and this in spite of the documents discovered by 
Gregorovius and his assertion that they remove all 
doubt and enable him definitely to assert that Giovanni 
was born in 1474 and Cesare in 1476. 

Let us look at these documents. They are letters 
from ambassadors to their masters ; probably correct, 
and the more credible since they happen to agree and 
corroborate one another ; still, not so utterly and abso- 
lutely reliable as to suffice to remove the doubts 
engendered by the no less reliable documents whose 
evidence contradicts them. 

The first letters quoted by Gregorovius are from 
the ambassador Gianandrea Boccaccio to his master, 


the Duke of Ferrara, in 1493. In these he mentions 
Cesare Borgia as being sixteen to seventeen years of 
age at the time. But the very manner of writing — 
" sixteen to seventeen years " — is a common way of 
vaguely suggesting age rather than positively stating 
it. So we may pass that evidence over, as of secondary 

Next is a letter from Gerardo Saraceni to the 
Duke of Ferrara, dated October 26, 1 501 , and it is more 
valuable, claiming as it does to be the relation of some- 
thing which his Holiness told the writer. It is in 
the post-scriptum that this ambassador says : " The 
Pope gave me to understand that the said Duchess 
[Lucrezia Borgia] will complete twenty-two years of 
age next April, and at that same time the Duke of 
Romagna will complete his twenty-sixth year." ^ 

This certainly fixes the year of Cesare's birth as 
1476 ; but we are to remember that Saraceni is speak- 
ing of something that the Pope had recently told him ; 
exactly how recently does not transpire. An error 
would easily be possible in so far as the age of Cesare 
is concerned. In so far as the age of Lucrezia is 
concerned, an error is not only possible, but has 
actually been committed by Saraceni. At least the 
age given in his letter is wrong by one year, as we 
know by a legal document drawn up in February of 
1 491 — Lucrezia's contract of marriage with Don Juan 
Cherubin de Centelles.^ 

According to this protocol in old Spanish, dated 
February 26, 1491, Lucrezia completed her twelfth 
year on April 19, 1491,' which definitely and positively 
gives us the date of her birth as April 19, 1479. 

1 " Facendomi intendere che epsa Duchessa e di eta di anni ventidui, 
li quali finiranno a questo Aprile ; in el qual tempo anche lo lUmo. 
Duca di Romagna fornira anni ventisei." 

2 A contract never executed. 

* " Item mes attenent que dita Dona Lucretia a xviiii de Abril 
prop, vinent entrara in edat de dotze anys." 


A quite extraordinary error is that made by Gregor- 
ovius when he says that Lucrezia Borgia was born on 
April 1 8, 1480, extraordinary considering that he made 
it apparently with this very protocol under his eyes, 
and cites it, in fact (Document IV in the Appendix 
to his Lucrezia Borgia) as his authority. 

To return, however, to Cesare and Giovanni, there 
is yet another evidence quoted by Gregorovius in 
support of his contention that the latter was the 
elder and born in 1474 ; but it is of the same nature 
and of no more, nor less, value than those already 

Worthy of more consideration in view of their 
greater official and legal character are the Ossuna 
documents, given in the Supplement of the Appendix 
in Thuasne's edition of Burchard's Diary, namely : 

(a) October i, 1480. — A Bull from Sixtus IV, 
already mentioned, dispensing Cesare from proving 
his legitimacy. In this he is referred to as in his sixth 
year — " in sexto tuo aetatis anno." 

This, assuming Boccaccio's letter to be correct in the 
matter of April being the month of Cesare's birth, 
fixes the year of his birth as 1475. 

{b) August 16, 1482. — A Bull of Sixtus IV, appoint- 
ing Roderigo Borgia administrator of Cesare's bene- 
fices. In this he is mentioned as being seven years 
of age (/.^., presumably in his eighth year), which 
again gives us his birth-year as 1475. 

{c) September 12, 1484. — A Bull of Sixtus IV, 
appointing Cesare treasurer of the Church of Carthage. 
In this he is mentioned as in his ninth year — " in nono 
tuo aetatis anno." This is at variance with the other 
two, and gives us 1476 as the year of his birth. 

To these evidences, conflicting as they are, may 
be added Burchard's mention in his diary under date 


of September 12, I49i,that Cesarewas then seventeen 
years of age. This would make him out to have been 
born in 1474. 

Clearly the matter cannot definitely be settled upon 
such evidence as we have. All that we can positively 
assert is that he was born between the years 1474 
and 1476, and we cannot, we think, do better for 
the purposes of this story than assume his birth-year 
to have been 1475. 

We know that between those same years, or in 
one or the other of them, was born Giovanni Borgia ; 
but just as the same confusion prevails with regard 
to his exact age, so is it impossible to determine with 
any finality whether he was Cesare's junior or senior. 

The one document that appears to us to be the most 
important in this connection is that of the inscription 
on their mother's tomb. This runs : 




If Giovanni was, as is claimed, the eldest of her 
children, why does his name come second ? If 
Cesare was her second son, why does his name take 
the first place on that inscription ? 

It has been urged that if Cesare was the elder of 
these two, he, and not Giovanni, would have succeeded 
to the Duchy of Gandia on the death of Pedro Luis 
— Cardinal Roderigo's eldest son, by an unknown 
mother. But that does not follow inevitably ; for 
it is to be remembered that Cesare was already des- 
tined for an ecclesiastical career, and it may well be 
that his father was reluctant to change his plans. 

Meanwhile the turbulent reign of Sixtus IV went 


on, until his ambition to increase his dominions had 
the result of plunging the whole of Italy into war. 

Lorenzo de' Medici had thwarted the Pope's pur- 
poses in Romagna, coming to the assistance of Citt^ 
di Castello when this was attacked in the Pope's in- 
terest by the warlike Giuliano della Rovere. To 
avenge himself for this, and to remove a formidable 
obstacle to his family's advancement, the Pope in- 
spired the Pazzi conspiracy against the lives of the 
famous masters of Florence. The conspiracy failed ; 
for although Giuliano de' Medici fell stabbed to the 
heart — before Christ's altar, and at the very moment 
of the elevation of the Host — Lorenzo escaped with 
slight hurt, and, by the very risk to which he had 
been exposed, rallied the Florentines to him more 
closely than ever. 

Open war was the only bolt remaining in the papal 
quiver, and open war he declared, preluding it by a 
Bull of Excommunication against the Florentines. 
Naples took sides with the Pope. Venice and Milan 
came to the support of Florence, whereupon Milan's 
attentions were diverted to her own affairs, Genoa 
being cunningly set in revolt against her. 

In 1480 a peace was patched up ; but it was short- 
lived. A few months later war flared out again from 
the Holy See, against Florence this time, and on the 
pretext of its having joined the Venetians against 
the Pope in the late war. A complication now arose, 
created by the Venetians, who seized the opportunity 
to forward their own ambitions and increase their 
territories on the mainland, and upon a pretext of 
the pettiest themselves declared war upon Ferrara. 
Genoa and some minor tyrannies were drawn into 
the quarrel on the one side, whilst on the other 
Florence, Naples, Mantua, Milan, and Bologna stood 
by Ferrara. Whilst the papal forces were holding 
in check the Neapolitans who sought to pass north 
to aid Ferrara, whilst the Roman Campagna was being 

> J » » 

(From the fresco by Pinturicchio.) 

Alinari photo. 


c C ( 
C > c c 

■r f> t f , 


• r e c c 


harassed by the Colonna, and Milan was engaged with 
Genoa, the Venetians invested Ferrara, forced her 
to starvation and to yielding-point. Thereupon the 
Pope, perceiving the trend of affairs, and that the only 
likely profit to be derived from the campaign would 
lie with Venice, suddenly changed sides that he 
might avoid a contingency so far removed from all 
his aims. 

He made a treaty with Naples, and permitted the 
Neapolitan army passage through his territories, of 
which they availed themselves to convey supplies to 
Ferrara and neutralize the siege. At the same time 
the Pope excommunicated the Venetians, and urged 
all Italy to make war upon them. 

In this fashion the campaign dragged on to every 
one's disadvantage and without any decisive battle 
fought, until at last the peace of Bagnolo was con- 
cluded in August of 1484, and the opposing armies 
withdrew from Ferrara. 

The news of it literally killed Sixtus. When the 
ambassadors declared to him the terms of the treaty 
he was thrown into a violent rage, and declared the 
peace to be at once shameful and humiliating. The 
gout from which he suffered flew to his heart, and on 
the following day — August 12, 1484 — he died. 

Two things he did during his reign to the material 
advantage of the Church, however much he may have 
neglected the spiritual. He strengthened her hold 
upon her temporal possessions and he enriched the 
Vatican by the addition of the Sistine Chapel. For 
the decoration of this he procured the best Tuscan 
talent of his day — and of many days — and brought 
Alessandro Filipeppi (Botticelli), Pietro Vannuccio 
(II Perugino), and Domenico Bigordi (II Ghirlandajo) 
from Florence to adorn its walls with their frescoes.^ 

* The glory of the Sistine Chapel, however, is Michelangelo's " Last 
Judgement," which was added later, in the reign of Pope Julius II 
(Giuliano della Rovere). 



In the last years of the reign of Pope Sixtus, Cardinal 
Roderigo's family had suffered a loss and undergone 
an increase. 

In 1 48 1 Vannozza bore him another son — Giuffredo 
Borgia, and in the following year died his eldest son 
(by an unknown mother) Pedro Luis de Borgia, 
who had reached the age of twenty-two and was 
betrothed at the time of his decease to the Princess 
Maria d'Aragona. 

In January of that same year, 1482, Cardinal Roderigo 
had married his daughter Girolama — now aged fifteen 
— to Giovanni Andrea Cesarini, the scion of a patrician 
Roman house. The alliance strengthened the bonds 
of good feeling which for some considerable time had 
prevailed between the two families. Unfortunately 
the young couple were not destined to many years of 
life together, as in 1483 both died. 

Of Cesare all that we know at this period is what we 
learn from the Papal Bulls conferring several benefices 
upon him. In July 1482 he was granted the revenues 
from the prebendals and canonries of Valencia ; in 
the following month he was appointed Canon of 
Valencia and apostolic notary. In April 1484 he was 
made Provost of Alba, and in September of the same 
year treasurer of the Church of Carthage. No doubt 
he was living with his mother, his brothers, and his 
sister at the house in the Piazza Pizzo di Merlo, 
where an ample if not magnificent establishment was 

By this time Cardinal Roderigo's wealth and power 
had grown to stupendous proportions, and he lived in 
a splendour well worthy of his lofty rank. He was 
now fifty-three years of age, still retaining the air 
and vigour of a man in his very prime, which, no doubt, 
he owed as much as to anything to his abstemious and 
singularly sparing table-habits. He derived a stu- 
pendous income from his numerous abbeys in Italy 
and Spain, his three bishoprics of Valencia, Porto, 


and Carthage, and his ecclesiastical offices, among 
which the Vice-Chancellorship alone yielded him 
annually eight thousand florins.* 

Volterra refers with wonder to the abundance of 
his plate, to his pearls, his gold embroideries, and 
his books, the splendid equipment of his beds, the 
trappings of his horses, and other similar furnishings 
in gold, in silver, and in silk. In short, he was the 
wealthiest prince of the Church of his day, and he 
lived with a magnificence worthy of a king or of 
the Pope himself. 

Of the actual man, Volterra, writing in 1586, says : 
" He is of a spirit capable of anything, and of a great 
intelligence. A ready speaker, and of distinction, 
notwithstanding his indifferent literary culture ; 
naturally astute, and of marvellous talent in the con- 
duct of affairs." 

In the year in which Volterra wrote of Cardinal 
Roderigo in such terms Vannozza was left a widow 
by the death of Giorgio della Croce. Her widowhood 
was short, however, for in the same year — on June 6 
— she took a second husband, possibly at the instance 
of Roderigo Borgia, who did not wish to leave her 
unprotected ; that, at least, is the general inference, 
although there is very little evidence upon which to 
base it. This second husband was Carlo Canale, a 
Mantovese scholar who had served Cardinal Francesco 
Gonzaga in the capacity of chamberlain, and who had 
come to Rome on the death of his patron. 

The marriage contract shows that by this time 
Vannozza had removed her residence to Piazza 
Branchis. In addition to this she had by this time 
acquired a villa with its beautiful gardens and vine- 
yards in the Suburra near S. Pietro in Vincoli. She 
is also known to have been the proprietor of an inn 

* The gold florin, ducat, or crown was equal to ten shillings of 
our present money, and had a purchasing power of five times that 


— the Albergo del Leone — in Via del Orso, opposite 
the Torre di Nona, for she figures with della Croce 
in a contract regarding a lease of it in 1483. 

With her entrance into second nuptials, her re- 
lations with Cardinal Roderigo came to an end, and 
his two children by her, then in Rome — Lucrezia and 
Giuffredo — went to take up their residence with 
Adriana Orsini {nee de Mila) at the Orsini Palace 
on Monte Giordano. She was a cousin of Roderigo's, 
and the widow of Lodovico Orsini, by whom she had 
a son, Orso Orsini, who from early youth had been 
betrothed to Giulia Farnese, the daughter of a 
patrician family, still comparatively obscure, but des- 
tined through this very girl to rise to conspicuous 

For her surpassing beauty this Giulia Farnese has 
been surnamed La Bella — and as Giulia La Bella 
was she known in her day — and she has been 
immortalized by Pinturicchio and Guglielmo della 
Porta. She sat to the former as a model for his 
Madonna in the Borgia Tower of the Vatican, and to 
the latter for the statue of Truth which adorns the 
tomb of her brother Alessandro Farnese, who became 
Pope Paul in. 

Here in Adriana Orsini's house, where his daughter 
Lucrezia was being educated. Cardinal Roderigo, now 
at the mature age of some six-and-fifty years, made the 
acquaintance and became enamoured of this beautiful 
golden-headed Giulia, some forty years his junior. To 
the fact that she presently became his mistress — 
somewhere about the same time that she became Orso 
Orsini's wife — is due the sudden rise of the House of 
Farnese. This began with her handsome, dissolute 
brother Alessandro's elevation to the purple by her 
lover, and grew to vast proportions during his subse- 
quent and eminently scandalous occupation of the 
Papal Throne as Paul HL 

In the year 1490 Lucrezia was the only one of 


Roderigo's children by Vannozza who remained in 

Giovanni Borgia was in Spain, whither he had gone 
on the death of his brother Pedro Luis, to take pos- 
session of the Duchy of Gandia, which the power 
of his father's wealth and vast influence at the Valen- 
cian Court had obtained for that same Pedro Luis. 
To this Giovanni now succeeded. 

Cesare Borgia — now aged fifteen — had for some 
two years been studying his humanities in an atmo- 
sphere of Latinity at the Sapienza of Perugia. There, 
if we are to believe the praises of him uttered by 
Pompilio, he was already revealing his unusual talents 
and a precocious wit. In the preface of the Syllabica 
on the art of Prosody dedicated to him by Pompilio, the 
latter hails him as the hope and ornament of the House 
of Borgia — " Borgiae familiae spes et decus." 

From Perugia he was moved in 1491 to the famous 
University of Pisa, a college frequented by the best 
youth of Italy. For preceptor he had Giovanni Vera 
of Arcilla, a Spanish gentleman who was later created 
a cardinal by Cesare's father. There in Pisa Cesare 
maintained an establishment of a magnificence in 
keeping with his father's rank and with the example 
set him by that same father. 

It was Cardinal Roderigo's wish that Cesare should 
follow an ecclesiastical career ; and the studies of canon 
law which he pursued under Filippo Decis, the most 
celebrated lecturer on canon law of his day, were such 
as peculiarly to fit him for that end and for the highest 
honours the Church might have to bestow upon him 
later. At the age of seventeen, while still at Pisa, 
he was appointed prothonotary of the Church and 
preconized Bishop of Pampeluna. 

Sixtus IV died, as we have seen, in August 1482. 

The death of a Pope was almost invariably the signal 
for disturbances in Rome, and they certainly were 
not wanting on this occasion. The Riario palaces were 


stormed and looted, and Girolamo Riario — the Pope's 
" nepot "• — threw himself into the castle of Sant' 
Angelo with his forces. 

The Orsini and Colonna were in arms, " so that 
in a few days incendiarism, robbery, and murder raged 
in several parts of the city. The cardinals besought 
the Count to surrender the castle to the Sacred College, 
withdraw his troops, and deliver Rome from the fear 
of his forces ; and he, that he might win the favour of 
the future Pope, obeyed, and withdrew to Imola." * 

The cardinals, having thus contrived to restore some 
semblance of order, proceeded to the creation of a 
new Pontiff, and a Genoese, Giovanni Battista Cibo, 
Cardinal of Malfetta, was elected and took the name 
of Innocent VIII. 

Again, as in the case of Sixtus, there is no lack of 
those who charge this Pontiff with having obtained 
his election by simony. The Cardinals Giovanni 
d' Aragona (brother to the King of Naples) and Ascanio 
Sforza (brother of Lodovico, Duke of Milan) are said 
to have disposed of their votes in the most open and 
shameless manner, practically putting them up for 
sale to the highest bidder. Italy rang with the 
scandal of it, we are told. 

Under Innocent's lethargic rule the Church again 
began to lose much of the vigour with which Sixtus 
had inspired it. If the reign of Sixtus had been 
scandalous, infinitely worse was that of Innocent — 
a sordid, grasping sensualist, without even the one 
redeeming virtue of strength that had been his 
predecessor's. Nepotism had characterized many 
previous pontificates ; open paternity was to char- 
acterize his, for he was the first Pope who, in flagrant 
violation of canon law, acknowledged his children for 
his own. He proceeded to provide for some seven 
bastards, and that provision appears to have been the 
only aim and scope of his pontificate. 

1 Macchiavelli, Istorie Fiorentine. 


Not content with raising money by the sale of 
preferments, Innocent established a traffic in in- 
dulgences, the~li£e of which had never been seen 
before. In the Rome of his day you might, had you 
the money, buy anything, from a cardinal's hat to a 
pardon for the murder of your father. 

The most conspicuous of his bastards was Francesco 
Cibo — conspicuous chiefly fOr the cupidity which 
distinguished him as it distinguished the Pope his 
father. For the rest he was a poor-spirited fellow 
who sorely disappointed Lorenzo de' Medici, whose 
daughter Maddalena he received in marriage. 
Lorenzo had believed that, backed by the Pope's 
influence, Francesco would establish for himself a 
dynasty in Romagna. But father and son were 
alike too invertebrate — the one to inspire, the 
other to execute any such designs as had already 
been attempted by the nepots of Calixtus III and 
Sixtus IV. 

Under the weak and scandalous rule of Innocent VIII 
Rome appears to have been abandoned to the most 
utter lawlessness. Anarchy, robbery, and murder 
preyed upon the city. No morning dawned without 
revealing corpses in the streets ; and if by chance 
the murderer was caught, there was pardon for him 
if he could afford to buy it, or Tor di Nona and the 
hangman's noose if he could not. 

It is not wonderful that when at last Innocent VIII 
died Infessura should have blessed the day that free^ 
the world of such a monster. 

But his death did not happen until 1492. A feeble 
old man, he had become subject to lethargic or cata- 
leptic trances, which had several times already de- 
ceived those in attendance into believing him dead. 
He grew weaker and weaker, and it became impossible 
to nourish him upon anything but woman's milk. 
Towards the end came, Infessura tells us, a Hebrew 
physician who claimed to have a prescription by which 


he could save the Pope's life. For his infusion^ he 
I needed young human blood, and to obtain it he took 
j three boys of the age of ten, and gave them a ducat 
I apiece for as much as he might require of them. 
I Unfortunately he took so much that the three boys 
I incontinently died of his phlebotomy, and the Hebrew 
j was obliged to take to flight to save his own life, for the 
[ Pope, being informed of what had taken place, exe- 
* crated the deed and ordered the physician's arrest. 

" Judeus quidem aufugit, et Papa sanatus not est," 

concludes Infessura. 

Innocent VHI breathed his last On July 25, 1492. 

1 The silly interpretation of this afforded by later writers, that 
this physician attempted transfusion of blood — silly, because un- 
thinkable in an age which knew nothing of the circulation of the 
blood — ^has already been exploded. 



The ceremonies connected with the obsequies of Pope 
Innocent VIII lasted — as prescribed — nine days ; 
they were concluded on August 5, 1492, and, says 
Infessura naively, " sic finita fuit eius memoria." 

The Sacred College consisted at the time of twenty- 
seven cardinals, four of whom were absent at distant 
sees and unable to reach Rome in time for the 
immuring of the Conclave. The twenty- three present 
were, in the order of their seniority : Roderigo Borgia, 
Oliviero Caraffa, Giuliano della Rovere, Battista 
Zeno, Giovanni Michieli, Giorgio Costa, Girolamo 
della Rovere, Paolo Fregosi, Domenico della Rovere, 
Giovanni dei Conti, Giovanni Giacomo Sclafetani, 
Lorenzo Cibo, Ardicino della Porta, Antoniotto 
Pallavicino, Maffeo Gerardo, Francesco Piccolomini, 
Raffaele Riario, Giovanni Battista Savelli, Giovanni 
Colonna, Giovanni Orsini, Ascanio Maria Sforza, 
Giovanni de' Medici, and Francesco Sanseverino. 

On August 6 they assembled in St. Peter's to hear 
the Sacred Mass of the Holy Ghost, which was said 
by Giuliano della Rovere on the tomb of the Prince 
of the Apostles, and to listen to the discourse " Pro 
eligendo Pontefice," delivered by the learned and elo- 
quent Bishop of Carthage. Thereafter the Cardinals 
swore upon the Gospels faithfully to observe their 
trust, and thereupon the Conclave was immured. 

According to the dispatches of Valori, the Ferrarese 
ambassador in Rome, it was expected that either the 



Cardinal of Naples (Oliviero Caraffa) or the Cardinal 
of Lisbon (Giorgio Costa) would be elected to the 
Pontificate ; and according to the dispatch of Cavalieri, 
the ambassador of Modena, the King of France had 
deposited 200,000 ducats with a Roman banker to 
forward the election of Giuliano della Rovere. Never- 
theless, early on the morning of August 11 it was 
announced that Roderigo Borgia was elected Pope, 
and we have it on the word of Valori that the election 
was unanimous, for he wrote on the morrow to the 
Council of Eight (the Signory of Florence) that after 
long contention Alexander VI was created " omnium 
consensum — ne li manco un solo voto." 

The subject of this election is one with which we 
rarely find an author dealing temperately or with a 
proper and sane restraint. To vituperate in super- 
latives seems common to most who have taken in hajid 
this and other episodes in the history of the Borgias. 
Every fresh writer who comes to the task appears to 
be mainly inspired by a desire to emulate his fore- 
runners, allowing his pen to riot zestfully in the 
accumulation of scandalous matter, and seeking to 
increase if possible its lurid quality by a degree or two. 
As a rule there is not even an attempt made to put 
forward evidence in substantiation of anything that 
is alleged. Wild and sweeping statement takes the 
place that should be held by calm deduction and 
reasoned comment. 

'' He was the worst Pontiff that ever filled St. 
Peter's Chair," is one of these sweeping statements, 
culled from the pages of an able, modern, Italian 
author, whose writings, sound in all that concerns 
other matters, are strewn with the most foolish 
extravagances and flagrant inaccuracies in connection 
with Alexander VI and his family. 

To say of him, as that writer says, that " he was 
the worst Pontiff that ever filled St. Peter's Chair," 
can only be justified by an utter ignorance of papal 


history. You have but to compare him calmly and 
honestly — ^your mind stripped of preconceptions — 
with the wretched and wholly contemptible 
Innocent VIII whom he succeeded, or with the 
latter's precursor, the terrible Sixtus IV. 

That he was better than these men, morally or 
ecclesiastically, is not to be pretended ; that he was 
worse — measuring achievement by opportunity — is 
strenuously to be denied. For the rest, that he was 
infinitely more gifted and infinitely more a man of 
affairs is not to be gainsaid by any impartial critic. 

If we take him out of the background of history 
in which he is set, and judge him singly and individu- 
ally, we behold a man who, as a churchman and Christ's 
Vicar, fills us with horror and loathing, as a scandalous 
exception from what we are justified in supposing 
from his office must have been the rule. Therefore, 
that he may be judged by the standard of his own time 
if he is to be judged at all, if we are even to attempt to 
understand him, have we given a sketch of the careers 
of those Popes who immediately preceded him, with 
whom as Vice- Chancellor he was intimately associated, 
and whose examples were the only papal examples that" 
he possessed. 

That this should justify his course we do not pretend. 
A good churchman in his place would have bethought 
him of his duty to the Master whose Vicar he was, 
and would have aimed at the sorely needed reform. 
But we are not concerned to study him as a good 
churchman. It is by no means clear that we are con- 
cerned to study him as a churchman at all. The 
Papacy had by this time become far less of an ecclesi- 
astical than a political force ; the weapons of the 
Church were there, but they were being employed 
for the furtherance not of churchly, but of worldly 
aims. If the Pontiffs in the pages of this history 
remembered or evoked their spiritual authority, it 
was but to employ it as an instrument for the ad- 


vancement of their temporal schemes. And personal 
considerations entered largely into these. 

Self-aggrandizement, insufferable in a cleric, is an 
ambition not altogether unpardonable in a temporal 
prince ; and if Alexander aimed at self-aggrandize- 
ment and at the founding of a permanent dynasty 
for his family, he did not lack examples in the careers 
of those among his predecessors with whom he had 
been associated. 

That the Papacy was Christ's Vicarage was a fact 
that had long since been obscured by the conception 
that the Papacy was a kingdom of this world. In 
striving, then, for worldly eminence by every means 
in his power, Alexander is no more blameworthy 
than any other. What, then, remains ? The fact 
that he succeeded better than any of his forerunners. 
But are we on that account to select him for the special 
object of our vituperation ? The Papacy had tumbled 
into a slough of materialism in which it was to wallow 
even after the Reformation had given it pause and 
warning. Under what obligation was Alexander VI, 
more than any other Pope, to pull it out of that slough ? 
As he found it, so he carried it on, as much a self- 
seeker, as much a worldly prince, as much a family 
man and as little a churchman as any of those who 
had gone immediately before him. 

By the outrageous discrepancy between the Papacy's 
professed and actual aims it was fast becoming an object 
of execration, and it is Alexander's misfortune that, 
coming when he did, he has remained as the type of 
his class. 

The mighty of this world shall never want for 

detractors. The mean and insignificant, writhing 

; under the consciousness of his short-comings, ministers 

J\ to his self-love by vilifying the great that he may 

^' lessen the gap between himself and them. To achieve 

greatness is to achieve enemies. It is to excite envy ; 

\ and as envy no seed can raise up such a crop of hatred. 


Does this need labouring ? Have we not abundant 
instances about us of the vulgar tittle-tattle and 
scandalous unfounded gossip which, born Heaven 
alone knows on what back-stairs or in what servants' 
hall, circulates currently to the detriment of the dis- 
tinguished in every walk of life ? And the more 
conspicuously great the individual, the greater the 
incentive to slander him, for the interest of the slander 
is commensurate with the eminence of the personage 

Such to a great extent is the case of Alexander VL 
He was too powerful for the stomachs of many of his 
contemporaries, and he and his son Cesare had a way 
of achieving their ends. Since that could not be 
denied, it remained to inveigh loudly against the means 
adopted ; and with pious uplifting of hands and eyes, 
to cry, "Shame!" and "Horror!" and "The 
like has never been heard of ! " in wilful blindness to 
what had been happening at the Vatican for genera- 

Later writers take up the tale of it. It is a fine 
subject about which to make phrases, and the passion 
for phrase-making will at times outweigh the respect 
for truth. Thus Villari with his " the worst Pontiff 
that ever filled St. Peter's Chair," and again, elsewhere, 
echoing what many a writer has said before him from 
Guicciardini downwards, in utter and diametric opposi- 
tion to the true facts of the case : " The announce- 
ment of his election was received throughout Italy 
with universal dismay." To this he adds the ubiqui- 
tous story of King Ferrante's bursting into tears at 
the news — " though never before known to weep for 
the death of his own children." 

Let us pause a moment to contemplate the grief 
of the Neapolitan King. What picture is evoked in 
our minds by that statement of his bursting into tears 
at Alexander's election ? We see — do we not ? — a 
pious, noble soul, horror-stricken at the sight of the 


Papacy's corruption ; a truly sublime figure, whose 
tears will surely stand to his credit in heaven ; a 
great heart breaking ; a venerable head bowed down 
with lofty, righteous grief, weeping over the grave 
of Christian hopes. Such surely is the image we 
are meant to see by Guicciardini and his many hollow 

Turn we now for corroboration of that noble picture 
to the history of this same Ferrante. A shock awaits 
us. We find, in this bastard of the great and brilliant 
Alfonso a cruel, greedy, covetous monster, so treacher- 
ous and so fiendishly brutal that we are compelled to 
extend him the charity of supposing him to be some- 
thing less than sane. Let us consider but one of his 
characteristics. He loved to have his enemies under 
his own supervision, and he kept them so — the living 
ones caged and guarded, the dead ones embalmed 
and habited as in life ; and this collection of 
mummies was his pride and delight. More, and 
worse could we tell you of him. But — ex pede^ 

This man shed tears we are told. Not another word. 
It is left to our imagination to paint for us a picture 
of this weeping ; it is left to us to conclude that these 
precious tears were symbolical of the grief of Italy 
herself ; that the catastrophe that provoked them 
must have been terrible indeed. 

But now that we know what manner of man was 
this who wept, see how different is the inference that 
we may draw from his sorrow. Can we still imagine 
it — as we are desired to do — to have sprung from a 
lofty. Christian piety ? Let us track those tears to 
their very source, and we shall find it to be compounded 
of rage and fear. 

Ferrante saw trouble ahead of him with Lodovico 
Sforza, concerning a matter which shall be considered 
in the next chapter, and not at all would it suit him 
at such a time that such a Pope as Alexander — who, 


he had every reason to suppose, would be on the side 
of Lodovico — should rule in Rome. 

So he had set himself, by every means in his power, 
to oppose Roderigo's election. His rage at the news 
that all his efforts had been vain, his fear of a man of 
Roderigo's mettle, and his undoubted dread of the 
consequences to himself of his frustrated opposition 
of that man's election, may indeed have loosened the 
tears of this Ferrante who had not even wept at the 
death of his own children. We say " may " advisedly ; 
for the matter, from beginning to end, is one of specu- 
lation. If we leave it for the realm of fact, we have 
to ask — Were there any tears at all ? Upon what 
authority rests the statement of the Florentine his- 
torian ? What, in fact, does he say ? 

" It is well known that the King of Naples, for all that 
in public he dissembled the pain it caused him, signified 
to the queen, his wife, with tears — which were un- 
usual in him even on the death of his children — that 
a Pope had been created who would be most pernicious 
to Italy." 

So that, when all is said, Ferrante shed his kingly 
tears to his wife in private, and to her in private he 
delivered his opinion of the new Pontiff. How, then, 
came Guicciardini to know of the matter ? True, 
he says, " It is well known " — meaning that he had 
those tears upon hearsay. It is, of course, possible 
that Ferrante's queen may have repeated what passed 
between herself and the king ; but that would surely 
have been in contravention of the wishes of her 
husband, who had, be it remembered, " dissembled 
his grief in public." And Ferrante does not impress 
one as the sort of husband whose wishes his wife 
would be bold enough to contravene. 

It is surprising that upon no better authority than 
this should these precious tears of Ferrante's have been 
crystallized in history. 

If this trivial instance has been dealt with at such 


length it is because, for one reason, it is typical of 
the foundation of so many of the Borgia legends, and, 
for another, because when history has been carefully 
sifted for evidence of the " universal dismay with 
which the election of Roderigo Borgia was received " 
King Ferrante's is the only case of dismay that comes 
through the mesh at all. Therefore was it expedient 
to examine it minutely. 

That " universal dismay " — like the tears of Fer- 
rante — rests upon the word of Guicciardini. He says 
that '' men were filled with dread and horror by this 
election, because it had been effected by such evil ways 
[con arte si brutte] ; and no less because the nature 
and condition of the person elected were largely 
known to many." 

Guicciardini is to be read with the greatest caution 
and reserve when he deals with Rome. His bias 
against, and his enmity of, the Papacy are as obvious 
as they are notorious, and in his endeavours to bring 
it as much as possible into discredit he does not even 
spare his generous patrons, the Medicean Popes — 
Leo X and Clement VH. If he finds it impossible 
to restrain his invective against these Pontiffs, who 
heaped favours and honours upon him, what but 
virulence can be expected of him when he writes of 
Alexander VI ? He is largely to blame for the flagrant 
exaggeration of many of the charges brought against 
the Borgias ; that he hated them we know, and that 
when he wrote of them he dipped his golden Tuscan 
pen in vitriol and set down what he desired the world 
to believe rather than what contemporary documents 
would have revealed to him, we can prove here and 
now from that one statement of his which we have 

Who were the men who were filled with dismay, 
horror, or dread at Roderigo's election ? 

The Milanese ? No. For we know that Cardinal 
Ascanio Sforza, the Duke of Milan's brother, was the 

) J J » 


(From the fresco by Melozzo.) 

A linari photo. 



most active worker in favour of Roderigo's election, 
and that this same election was received and cele- 
brated in Milan with public rejoicings. 

The Florentines ? No. For the Medici were 
friendly to the House of Borgia, and we know that 
they welcomed the election, and that from Florence 
Manfredi — the Ferrarese ambassador — wrote home : 
" It is said he will be a glorious Pontiff " (" Dicesi 
che sard glorioso Pontefice "). 

Were Venice, Genoa, Mantua, Siena, or Lucca 
dismayed by this election ? Surely not, if the super- 
latively laudatory congratulations of their various 
ambassadors are of any account. 

Venice confessed that '' a better pastor could not 
have been found for the Church," since he had proved 
himself '* a chief full of experience and an excellent 

Genoa said that " his merit lay not in having been 
elected, but in having been desired." 

Mantua declared that it "had long awaited the 
pontificate of one who, during forty years, had 
rendered himself, by his wisdom and justice, capable 
of any office." 

Siena expressed its joy at seeing the summit of 
eminence attained by a Pope solely upon his merits — 
" Pervenuto alia dignitd pontificale meramente per 
meriti proprii." 

Lucca praised the excellent choice made, and 
extolled the accomplishments, the wisdom, and ex- 
perience of the Pontiff. 

Not dismay, then, but actual rejoicing must have 
been almost universal in Italy on the election of 
Pope Alexander VI. And very properly — always con- 
sidering the Pontificate as the temporal State it was 
then being accounted ; for Roderigo's influence was 
vast, his intelligence was renowned, and had again 
and again been proved, and his administrative talents 
and capacity for affairs were known to all. He was 


well-born, cultured, of a fine and noble presence, and 
his wealth was colossal, comprising the archbishoprics 
of Valencia and Porto, the bishoprics of Majorca, 
Carthage, Agria, the abbeys of Subiaco, the Monastery 
of Our Lady of Belief ontaine, the deaconry of Sancta 
Maria in Via Lata, and his offices of Vice-Chancellor 
and Dean of Holy Church. 

We are told that he gained his election by simony. 
It is very probable that he did. But the accusation 
has never been categorically established, and until 
that happens it would be well to moderate the vitupera- 
tion hurled at him. Charges of that simony are 
common ; conclusive proof there is none. We find 
Giacomo Trotti, the French ambassador in Milan, 
writing to the Duke of Ferrara a fortnight after 
Roderigo's election that '' the Papacy has been sold 
- by simony and a thousand rascalities, which is a thing 
ignominious and detestable." 

Ignominious and detestable indeed, if true; but 
be it remembered that Trotti was the ambassador of 
France, whose candidate, backed by French influence 
and French gold, as we have seen, was della Rovere ; 
and, even if his statement was true, the " ignominious 
and detectable thing " was at least no novelty. Yet 
Guicciardini, treating of this matter, says : " He 
gained the Pontificate owing to discord between the 
Cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Giuliano di San Pietro 
in Vincoli, and still more because, in a manner without 
precedent in that age [con esempio nuovo in quella 
etd] he openly bought the votes of many cardinals, 
some with money, some with promises of his offices 
and benefices, which were very great." 

Again Guicciardini betrays his bias by attempting 
to render Roderigo's course, assuming it for the 
moment to be truly represented, peculiarly odious by 
this assertion that it was without precedent in that age. 

Without precedent ! What of the accusations of 
simony against Innocent VIII, which rest upon a 


much sounder basis than these against Alexander, and 
what of those against Sixtus IV ? Further, if a 
simoniacal election was unprecedented, what of 
Lorenzo Valla's fierce indictment of simony — for which 
he so narrowly escaped the clutches of the Inquisition 
some sixty years before this date ? 

Simony was rampant at the time, and it is the 
rankest hypocrisy to make this outcry against Alex- 
ander's uses of it, and to forget the others. 

Whether he really was elected by simony or not 
depends largely — so far as the evidence available goes 
— upon what we are to consider as simony. If pay- 
ment in the literal sense was made or promised, then 
unquestionably simony there was. But this, though 
often asserted, still awaits proof. If the conferring 
of the benefices vacated by a cardinal on his elevation 
to the Pontificate is to be considered simony, then 
there never was a Pope yet against whom the charge 
could not be levelled and established. 

Consider that by his election to the Pontificate his 
Archbishoprics, offices, nay, his very house itself — 
which at the time of which we write it was customary 
to abandon to pillage — are vacated ; and remember 
that, as Pope, they are now in his gift and that they 
must of necessity be bestowed upon somebody. In 
a time in which Pontiffs are imbued with a spiritual 
sense of their office and duties, they will naturally 
make such bestowals upon those whom they consider 
best fitted to use them for the greater honour and 
glory of God. But we are dealing with no such 
spiritual golden age as that when we deal with the 
Cinquecento, as we have already seen; and, therefore, 
all that we can expect of a Pope is that he should 
bestow the preferment he has vacated upon those 
among the cardinals whom he believes to be devoted 
to himself. Considering his election in a temporal 
sense, it is natural that he should behave as any other 
temporal prince ; that he should remember those 


to whom he owes the Pontificate, and that he should 
reward them suitably. Alexander VI certainly pur- 
sued such a course, and the greatest profit from his 
election was derived by the Cardinal Sforza who — 
as Roderigo himself admitted — had certainly exerted 
all his influence with the Sacred College to gain 
him the Pontificate. Alexander gave him the va- 
cated Vice-Chancellorship (for which, when all is 
said, Ascanio Sforza was excellently fitted), his va- 
cated palace on Banchi Vecchi, the town of Nepi, 
and the bishopric of Agri. 

To Orsini he gave the Church of Carthage and the 
legation of Marche ; to Colonna the Abbey of Subiaco ; 
to Savelli the legation of Perugia (from which he after- 
wards recalled him, not finding him suited to so 
difficult a charge) ; to Raffaele Riario went Spanish 
benefices worth four thousand ducats yearly ; to 
Sanseverino Roderigo's house in Milan, whilst he con- 
sented that Sanseverino's nephew — known as Fracassa 
— should enter the service of the Church with a 
condotta of a hundred men-at-arms and a stipend of 
thirteen thousand ducats yearly. 

Guicciardini says of all this that Ascanio Sforza 
induced many of the cardinals " to that abominable 
contract, and not only by request and persuasion, but 
by example ; because, corrupt and of an insatiable 
appetite for riches, he bargained for himself, as the 
reward of so much turpitude, the Vice-Chancellorships, 
churches, fortresses [the very plurals betray the frenzy 
of exaggeration dictated by his malice] and his 
[Roderigo's] palace in Rome full of furniture of great 

What possible proof can Guicciardini have — what 
possible proof can there be — of such a " bargain " ? 
It rests upon purest assumption formed after those 
properties had changed hands — Ascanio being re- 
warded by them for his valuable services, and, also— 
so far as the Vice-Chancellorship was concerned — 


being suitably preferred. To say that Ascanio received 
them in consequence of a " bargain " and as the price 
of his vote and electioneering services is not only an 
easy thing to say, but it is the obvious thing for any one 
to say who aims at defaming. 

It is surprising that we should find in Guicciardini 
no mention of the four mule-loads of silver removed 
before the election from Cardinal Roderigo's palace 
on Banchi Vecchi to Cardinal Ascanio's palace in 
Trastevere. This is generally alleged to have been 
part of the price of Ascanio's services. Whether it 
was so, or whether, as has also been urged, it was 
merely removed to save it from the pillaging by the 
mob of the palace of the cardinal elected to the Ponti- 
ficate, the fact is interesting as indicating in either 
case Cardinal Roderigo's assurance of his election. 

M. Yriarte does not hesitate to say : " We know 
to-day, by the dispatches of Valori, the narrative of 
Girolamo Porzio, and the Diarium of Burchard, the 
Master of Ceremonies, each of the stipulations made 
with the electors whose votes were bought." 

Now whilst we do know from Valori and Porzio 
what benefices Alexander actually conferred, we do 
not know, nor could they possibly have told us, what 
stipulations had been made which these benefices 
were insinuated to satisfy. 

Burchard's Diarium might be of more authority on 
this subject, for Burchard was the Master of Cere- 
monies at the Vatican ; but, unfortunately for the 
accuracy of M. Yriarte's statement, Burchard is silent 
on the subject, for the excellent reason that there is 
no diary for the period under consideration. Bur- 
chard's narrative is interrupted on the death of 
Innocent VIII, on July 12, and not resumed until 
December 2, when it is not retrospective. 

There is, it is true, the Diarium of Infessura. But 
that is of no more authority on such a matter than 
the narrative of Porzio or the letters of Valori. 


Lord Acton — in his essay upon this subject — has 
not been content to rest the imputation of simony 
upon such grounds as satisfied M. Yriarte. He 
has realized that the only testimony of any real 
value in such a case would be the actual evidence of 
such cardinals as might be wilHng to bear witness to the 
attempt to bribe them. And he takes it for granted 
— as who would not at this time of day, and in 
view of such positive statements as abound ? — that 
such evidence has been duly collected ; thus, he tells 
us confidently that the charge rests upon the evidence 
of those cardinals who refused Roderigo's bribes. 

That it most certainly does not. If it did there 
would be an end to the matter, and so much ink would 
not have been spilled over it ; but no single cardinal 
has left any such evidence as Lord Acton supposes 
and alleges. It suffices to consider that, according 
to the only evidences available — the Casanatense 
Codices ^ and the dispatches of that same Valori ^ 
whom M. Yriarte so confidently cites, Roderigo 
Borgia's election was unanimous. Who, then, were 
these cardinals who refused his bribes ? Or are we 
to suppose that, notwithstanding that refusal — a 
refusal which we may justifiably suppose to have 
been a scandalized and righteously indignant one — 
they still afforded him their votes ? 

This charge of simony was levelled with the object 
of making Alexander VI appear singularly heinous. 
So much has that object engrossed and blinded those 
inspired by it, that, of itself, it betrays them. Had 
their horror been honest, had it sprung from true 

^ " . . . essendo concordi tutti i cardinal!, quasi da contrari voti 
rivolti tutti in favore di uno solo, crearono lui sommo pontefice " 
(Casanatense MSS). See P. Leonetti, Alessandro VI. 

2 " Fu pubblicato il Cardinale Vice-Cancelliere in Sommo Pontefice 
Alessandro VI*** nuncupate, el quale dopo una lunga contentione fu 
create omnium consensum — ne li manco un solo voto " (Valori's 
letter to the Otto di Pratica, August 12, 1492). See Supplement to 
Appendix in E. Thuasne's edition of Burchard's Diarium, 


principles, had it been born of any but a desire to 
befoul and bespatter at all costs Roderigo Borgia, it 
is not against him that they would have hurled their 
denunciations, but against the whole College of 
Cardinals which took part in the sacrilege and which 
included three future Popes.^ 

Assuming not only that there was simony, but that 
it was on as wholesale a scale as was alleged, and that 
for gold — coined or in the form of benefices — Roderigo 
bought the cardinal's votes, what then ? He bought 
them, true. But they — they sold him their sacred 
trust, their duty to their God, their priestly honour, 
their holy vows. For the gold he offered them they 
bartered these. So much admitted, then surely, 
in that transaction, those cardinals were the 
prostitutes ! The man who bought so much of 
them, at least, was on no baser level than were they. 
Yet invective singles him out for its one object, and so 
betrays the aforethought malice of its inspiration. 

Our quarrel is with that ; with that, and with 
those writers who have taken Alexander's simony for 
granted — eagerly almost — for the purpose of heaping 
odium upon him by making him appear a scandalous 
exception to the prevailing rule. 

If, nevertheless, we hold, as we have said, that 
simony probably did take place, we do so, not so much 
upon the inconclusive evidence of the fact, as upon the 
circumstance that it had become almost an established 
custom to purchase the tiara, and that Roderigo Borgia 
— since his ambition clearly urged him to the Ponti- 
ficate — would have been an exception had he refrained, \, 

It may seem that to have disputed so long to con- 
clude by admitting so much is no better than a waste 
of labour. Not so, we hope. Our aim has been to 
correct the adjustment of the focus and properly to 
trim the light in which Roderigo Borgia is to be viewed, 
to the end that you may see him as he was — neither 

1 Cardinals Piccolomini, de' Medici, and Giuliano della Rovere. 


better nor worse — the creature of his times, of his 
environment, and of the system in which he was 
reared and trained. Thus shall you also get a clearer 
view of his son Cesare, when presently he takes the 
stage more prominently. 

During the seventeen days of the interregnum 
between the death of Innocent and the election of 
Alexander the wild scenes usual to such seasons had 
been taking place in Rome ; and, notwithstanding 
the Cardinal-Chamberlain's prompt action in seizing 
the gates and bridges, and the patrols' endeavours to 
maintain order, crime was unfettered to such an 
extent that some 220 murders are computed to 
have taken place — giving the terrible average of 
thirteen a day. 

It was a very natural epilogue to the lax rule of the 
lethargic Innocent. One of the first acts of Alex- 
ander's reign was to deal summarily with this lawless- 
ness. He put down violence with a hard hand that knew 
no mercy. He razed to the ground the house of a 
murderer caught red-handed, and hanged him above 
the ruins, and so dealt generally that such order came 
to prevail as had never before been known in Rome. 

Infessura tells us how, in the very month of his elec- 
tion, he appointed inspectors of prisons and four 
commissioners to administer justice, and that he him- 
self gave audience on Tuesdays and settled disputes, 
concluding, " et justitiam mirabili modo facere 

He paid all salaries promptly — a striking departure, 
it would seem, from what had been usual under his 
predecessor — and the effect of his improved and strenu- 
ous legislation was shortly seen in the diminished prices 
of commodities. 

He was crowned Pope on August 6, on the steps of 
the Basilica of St. Peter, by the Cardinal-Archdeacon 


Piccolomini. The ceremony was celebrated with a 
splendour worthy of the splendid figure that was its 
centre. Through the eyes of Michele Ferno — despite 
his admission that he is unable to convey a worthy 
notion of the spectacle — ^you may see the gorgeous 
procession to the Lateran in which Alexander VI 
showed himself to the applauding Romans ; the multi- 
tude of richly adorned men, gay and festive ; the seven 
hundred priests and prelates, with their familiars ; 
the splendid cavalcade of knights and nobles of Rome ; 
the archers and Turkish horsemen, and the Palatine 
Guard, with its great halberds and flashing shields ; 
the twelve white horses, with their golden bridles, 
led by footmen ; and then Alexander himself on a 
snow-white horse, " serene of brow and of majestic 
dignity," his hand uplifted — the Fisherman's Ring 
upon its forefinger — to bless the kneeling populace. 
The chronicler flings into superlatives when he comes 
to praise the personal beauty of the man, his physical 
vigour and health, " which go to increase the venera- 
tion shown him." 

Thus in the brilliant sunshine of that Italian August, 
amid the plaudits of assembled Rome, amid banners 
and flowers, music and incense, the flash of steel and 
the blaze of decorations with the Borgian arms every- 
where displayed — or, a grazing steer gules — Alex- 
ander VI passes to the Vatican, the aim and summit 
of his vast ambition. 

Friends and enemies alike have sung the splendours 
of that coronation, and the Bull device — as you can 
imagine — plays a considerable part in those verses, 
be they paeans or lampoons. The former allude to 
Borgia as " the Bull," from the majesty and might 
of the animal that was displayed upon their shield ; 
the latter render it the subject of much scurrilous in- 
vective, to which it lends itself as readily. And 
thereafter, in almost all verse of their epoch, writers 
ever say " the Bull " when they mean the Borgia. 



At the time of his father's election to the throne of 
St. Peter, Cesare Borgia — now in his eighteenth year 
— was still at the University of Pisa. 

It is a little odd, considering the great affection for 
his children which was ever one of Roderigo's most 
conspicuous characteristics, that he should not have 
ordered Cesare to Rome at once, to share in the general 
rejoicings. It has been suggested that Alexander 
wished to avoid giving scandal by the presence of his 
children at such a time. But that again looks like 
a judgement formed upon modern standards, for by 
the standards of his day one cannot conceive that he 
would have given very much scandal ; moreover, it 
is to be remembered that Lucrezia and Giuffredo, 
at least, were in Rome at the time of their father's 
election to the tiara. 

However that may be, Cesare did not quit Pisa 
until August of that year 1492, and even then not 
for Rome, but for Spoleto — in accordance with his 
father's orders — where he took up his residence in the 
castle. Thence he wrote. a letter to Piero de' Medici, 
which is interesting, firstly, as showing the good re- 
lations prevailing between them ; secondly, as refuting 
a story in Guicciardini, wherewith that historian, 
ready, as ever, to belittle the Borgias, attempts to 
show him cutting a poor figure. He tells us ^ that, 
whilst at Pisa, Cesare had occasion to make an appeal 
to Piero de' Medici in the matter of a criminal case 

^ Istoria d"* Italia, torn. v. 


connected with one of his familiars ; that he went to 
Florence and waited several hours in vain for an audi- 
ence, whereafter he returned to Pisa " accounting 
himself despised and not a little injured." 

No doubt Guicciardini is as mistaken in this as in 
many another matter, for the letter written from 
Spoleto expresses his regret that, on the occasion of 
his passage through Florence (on his way from Pisa 
to Spoleto), he should not have had time to visit Piero, 
particularly as there was a matter upon which he 
desired urgently to consult with him. He recommends 
to Piero his faithful Remolino, whose ambition it is 
to occupy the chair of canon law at the University 
of Pisa, and begs his good offices in that connection. 
That Juan Vera, Cesare's preceptor and the bearer of 
that letter, took back a favourable answer is highly 
probable, for in Fabroni's Hist, Acad, Pisan we find 
this Remolino duly established as a lecturer on canon 
law in the following year. 

The letter is further of interest as showing Cesare's 
full consciousness of the importance of his position ; 
its tone and its signature — " your brother, Cesar de 
Borgia, Elect of Valencia" — being such as were usual 
between princes. 

The two chief aims of Alexander VI, from the very 
beginning of his pontificate, were to re-establish the 
power of the Church, which was then the most despised 
of the temporal States of Italy, and to promote the 
fortune of his children. Already on the very day of 
his coronation he conferred upon Cesare the bishopric 
of Valencia, whose revenues amounted to an annual 
yield of sixteen thousand ducats. For the time being, 
however, he had his hands very full of other matters, 
and it behoved him to move slowly at first and with 
the extremest caution. 

The clouds of war were lowering heavily over Italy 
when Alexander came to St. Peter's throne, .and it 
was his first concern to find for himself a safe position 


against the coming of the threatening storm. The 
chief menace to the general peace was Lodovico 
Maria Sforza, surnamed II Moro,^ who sat as regent 
for his nephew, Duke Gian Galeazzo, upon the throne 
of Milan. That regency he had usurped from Gian 
Galeazzo's mother, and he was now in a fair way to 
usurp the throne itself. He kept his nephew virtually 
a prisoner in the Castle of Pavia, together with his 
young bride, Isabella of Aragon, who had been sent 
thither by her father, the Duke of Calabria, heir to 
the crown of Naples. 

Gian Galeazzo thus bestowed, Lodovico Maria 
went calmly about the business of governing, like one 
who did not mean to relinquish the regency save to 
become duke. But it happened that a boy was born 
to the young prisoners at Pavia, whereupon, spurred 
perhaps into activity by this parenthood and stimu- 
lated by the thought that they had now a son's in- 
terests to fight for as well as their own, they made 
appeal to King Ferrante of Naples that he should 
enforce his grandson-in-law's rights to the throne of 
Milan. King Ferrante could desire nothing better, 
for if his grandchild and her husband reigned in Milan, 
and by his favour and contriving, great should be his 
influence in the North of Italy. Therefore he stood 
their friend. 

1 Touching Lodovico Maria's by-name of " II Moro " — which is 
generally translated as " The Moor," whilst in one writer we have 
found him mentioned as " Black Lodovico," Benedetto Varchi's 
explanation (in his Storia Fiorentina) may be of interest. He tells us 
that Lodovico was not so called on account of any swarthiness of com- 
plexion, as is supposed by Guicciardini, because, on the contrary, he 
was fair ; nor yet on account of his device, showing a Moorish squire, 
who, brush in hand, dusts the gown of a young woman in regal apparel, 
with the motto, " Per Italia nettar d'ogni bruttura " ; this device 
of the Moor, he tells us, was a rebus or pun upon the word " moro," 
which also means the mulberry, and was so meant by Lodovico. The 
mulberry burgeons at the end of winter and blossoms very early. 
Thus Lodovico symbolized his own prudence and readiness to seize 
opportunity betimes. 


Matters were at this stage when Alexander VI 
ascended the papal throne. 

This election gave Ferrante pause, for, as we have 
seen, he had schemed for a Pope devoted to his in- 
terests, who would stand by him in the coming strife, 
and his schemes were rudely shaken now. Whilst 
he was still cogitating the matter of his next move, 
the wretched Francesco Cibo (Pope Innocent's son) 
offered to sell the papal fiefs of Cervetri and Anguil- 
lara, which had been made over to him by his father, 
to Gentile Orsini — the head of his powerful house. 
And Gentile purchased them under a contract signed 
at the palace of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, on 
September 3, for the sum of forty thousand ducats 
advanced him by Ferrante. 

Alexander protested strongly against this illegal 
transaction, for Cervetri and Anguillara were fiefs 
of the Church, and neither had Cibo the right to sell 
nor Orsini the right to buy them. Moreover, that 
they should be in the hands of a powerful vassal of 
Naples such as Orsini suited the Pope as little as it 
suited Lodovico Maria Sforza. It stirred the latter 
into taking measures against the move he feared 
Ferrante might make to enforce Gian Galeazzo's 

Lodovico Maria went about this with that sly 
shrewdness so characteristic of him, so well symbolized 
by his mulberry badge — a humorous shrewdness 
almost, which makes him one of the most delightful 
rogues in history, just as he was one of the most de- 
bonair and cultured. He may indeed be considered 
as one of the types of the subtle, crafty, selfish poHtician 
that was the ideal of Macchiavelli. 

You see him, then, effacing the tight-lipped, cunning 
smile from his comely face and pointing out to Venice 
with a grave, sober countenance how little it can suit 
her to have the Neapolitan Spaniards rufiling it 
in the north, as must happen if Ferrante has his way 


with Milan. The truth of this was so obvious that 
Venice made haste to enter into a league with him, 
and into the camp thus formed came, for their own 
sakes, Mantua, Ferrara, and Siena. The league was 
powerful enough thus to cause Ferrante to think twice 
before he took up the cudgels for Gian Galeazzo. 
If Lodovico could include the Pope, the league's might 
would be so paralysing that Ferrante would cease to 
think at all about his grandchildren's affairs. 

Foreseeing this, Ferrante had perforce to dry the 
tears Guicciardini has it that he shed, and, replacing 
them by a smile, servile and obsequious, repaired, hat in 
hand, to protest his friendship for the Pope's Holiness. 

And so, in December of 1492, came the Prince of 
Altamura — Ferrante's second son — to Rome to lay his 
father's homage at the feet of the Pontiff, and at the 
same time to implore his Holiness to refuse the King 
of Hungary the dispensation the latter was asking of 
the Holy See, to enable him to repudiate his wife, 
Donna Leonora — Ferrante's daughter. 

Altamura was received in Rome and sumptuously 
entertained by the Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere. 
This cardinal had failed, as we have seen, to gain 
the Pontificate for himself, despite the French influence 
by which he had been supported. Writhing under his 
defeat, and hating the man who had defeated him 
with a hatred so bitter and venomous that the imprint 
of it is on almost every act of his life — from the facilities 
he afforded for the assignment to Orsini of the papal 
fiefs that Cibo had to sell — he was already scheming for 
the overthrow of Alexander. To this end he needed 
great and powerful friends ; to this end had he lent 
himself to the Cibo-Orsini transaction ; to this end 
did he manifest himself the warm well-wisher of 
Ferrante ; to this end did he cordially welcome the 
latter's son and envoy, and promise his support to 
Ferrante's petition. 

But the Holy Father was by no means as anxious 


for the friendship of the old wolf of Naples. The 
matter of the King of Hungary was one that required 
consideration, and, meanwhile, he may have hinted 
slyly there was between Naples and Rome a little 
matter of two fiefs to be adjusted. 

Thus his most shrewd Holiness thought to gain a 
little time, and in that time he might look about him 
and consider what alliances would suit his interests 

At this Cardinal della Rovere, in high dudgeon, flung 
out of Rome and away to his Castle of Ostia to fortify 
— to wield the sword of St. Paul, since he had missed 
the keys of St. Peter. It was a shrewd move. He 
foresaw the injured dignity of the Spanish House of 
Naples, and Ferrante's wrath at the Pope's light 
treatment of him and apathy for his interests ; and the 
cardinal knew that with Ferrante were allied the 
mighty houses of Colonna and Orsini. Thus, by his 
political divorcement from the Holy See, he flung in 
his lot with theirs, hoping for red war and the deposi- 
tion of Alexander. 

But surely he forgot Milan and Lodovico Maria, 
whose brother, Ascanio Sforza, was at the Pope's elbow, 
the energetic friend to whose efforts Alexander owed 
the tiara, and who was therefore hated by della Rovere 
perhaps as bitterly as Alexander himself. 

Alexander went calmly about the business of forti- 
fying the Vatican and the Castle of Sant' Angelo, 
and gathering mercenaries into his service. And, 
lest any attempt should be made upon his life 
when he went abroad, he did so with an imposing 
escort of men-at-arms ; which so vexed and fretted 
King Ferrante, that he did not omit to comment upon 
it in scathing terms in a letter that presently we shall 
consider. For the rest, the Pope's Holiness preserved 
an unruffled front in the face of the hostile preparations 
that were toward in the kingdom of Naples, knowing 
that he could check them when he chose to lift his 


finger and beckon the Sforza into alliance. And 
presently Naples heard an alarming rumour that 
Lodovico Maria had, in fact, made overtures to the 
Pope, and that the Pope had met these advances to the 
extent of betrothing his daughter Lucrezia to Giovanni 
Sforza, Lord of Pesaro and cousin to Lodovico. 

So back to the Vatican went the Neapolitan envoys 
with definite proposals of an alliance to be cemented 
by a marriage between Giuffredo Borgia — aged twelve 
— and Ferrante's granddaughter Lucrezia of Aragon. 
The Pope, with his plans but half-matured as yet, 
temporized, was evasive, and continued to arm and 
to recruit. At last, his arrangements completed, he 
abruptly broke off his negotiations with Naples, and 
on April 25, 1493, publicly proclaimed that he had 
joined the northern league. 

The fury of Ferrante, who realized that he had been 
played with and outwitted, was expressed in a rabid 
letter to his ambassador at the Court of Spain. 

" This Pope," he wrote, " leads a life that is the 
abomination of all, without respect for the seat he 
occupies. He cares for nothing save to aggrandize 
his children, by fair means or foul, and this is his sole 
desire. From the beginning of his Pontificate he 
has done nothing but disturb the peace, molesting 
everybody, now in one way, now in another. Rome 
is more full of soldiers than of priests, and when he goes 
abroad it is with troops of men-at-arms about him, 
with helmets on their heads and lances by their sides, 
all his thoughts being given to war and to our hurt ; 
nor does he overlook anything that can be used against 
us, not only inciting in France the Prince of Salerno 
and other of our rebels, but befriending every bad 
character in Italy whom he deems our enemy ; and 
in all things he proceeds with the fraud and dissimula- 
tion natural to him, and to make money he sells even 
the smallest office and preferment." 
Thus Ferrante of the man whose friendship he 



had been seeking some six weeks earlier, and who 
had rejected his advances. It is as well to know the 
precise conditions under which that letter was indited, 
for extracts from it are too often quoted against 
Alexander. These conditions known, and known the 
man who wrote it, the letter's proper value is at once 

It was Ferrante's hope, and no doubt the hope of 
Giuliano della Rovere, that the King of Spain would 
lend an ear to these grievances, and move in the matter 
of attempting to depose Alexander ; but an event 
more important than any other in the whole history 
of Spain — or of Europe, for that matter— was at the 
moment claiming its full attention, and the trifling 
affairs of the King of Naples — trifling by comparison — 
went all unheeded. For this was the year in which the 
Genoese navigator, Cristofero Colombo, returned to 
tell of the new and marvellous world he had discovered 
beyond the seas, and Ferdinand and Isabella were 
addressing an appeal to the Pope — as Ruler of the 
World — to establish them in the possession of the 
discovered continent. Whereupon the Pope drew a 
line from pole to pole, and granted to Spain the 
dominion over all lands discovered, or to be discovered, 
one hundred miles westward of Cape Verde and the 

And thus Ferrante's appeal to Spain against a Pope 
who showed himself so ready and complaisant a 
friend to Spain went unheeded by Ferdinand and 
Isabella. And what time the Neapolitan nursed his 
bitter chagrin, the alliance between Rome and Milan 
was consolidated by the marriage of Lucrezia Borgia 
to Giovanni Sforza, the comely weakling who was 
Lord of Pesaro and Cotignola. 

Lucrezia Borgia's story has been told elsewhere ; 
her rehabilitation has been undertaken by a great 
historian,^ among others, and all serious-minded 
^ Ferdinand Gregorovius, Lucrezia Borgia. 



students must be satisfied at this time of day that the 
Lucrezia Borgia of Hugo's tragedy is a creature of 
fiction, bearing little or no resemblance to the poor 
lady who was a pawn in the ambitious game played 
by her father and her brother Cesare, before she 
withdrew to Ferrara, where eventually she died in 
child-birth in her forty-first year. We know that 
she left the duke, her husband, stricken with a grief 
that was shared by his subjects, to whom she had so 
deeply endeared herself by her exemplary life and 
loving rule.-^ 

Later, in the course of this narrative, where she 
crosses the story of her brother Cesare, it will be 
necessary to deal with some of the revolting calumnies 
concerning her that were circulated, and, in passing, 
shall be revealed the sources of the malice that inspired 
them and the nature of the evidence upon which 
they rest, to the eternal shame alike of those pre- 
tended writers of fact and those avowed writers of 
fiction who, as dead to scruples as to chivalry, have 
not hesitated to make her serve their base melodra- 
matic or pornographic ends. 

At present, however, there is no more than her 
first marriage to be recorded. She was fourteen 
years of age at the time, and, like all the Borgias, of 
a rare personal beauty, with blue eyes and golden 
hair. Twice before, already, had she entered into 
betrothal contracts with gentlemen of her father's 
native Spain ; but his ever-soaring ambition had caused 
him successively to cancel both those unfulfilled 
contracts. A husband worthy of the daughter of 
Cardinal Roderigo Borgia was no longer worthy of 
the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, for whom an 
alliance must now be sought among Italy's princely 
houses. And so she came to be bestowed upon the 
Lord of Pesaro, with a dowry of 30,000 ducats. 

^ See, inter alidy the letters of Alfonso d'Este and Giovanni Gonzaga 
on her death, quoted in Gregorovius, Lucrezia Borgia. 


Her nuptials were celebrated in the Vatican on 
June 12, 1493, in the splendid manner worthy of the 
rank of all concerned and of the reputation for magni- 
ficence which the Borgia had acquired. That night 
the Pope gave a supper-party, at which were present 
some ten cardinals and a number of ladies and gentle- 
men of Rome, besides the ambassadors of Ferrara, 
Venice, Milan, and France. There was vocal and 
instrumental music, a comedy was performed, the 
ladies danced, and they appear to have carried their 
gaieties well into the dawn. Hardly the sort of scene 
for which the Vatican was the ideal stage. Yet at 
the time it should have given little or no scandal. 
But what a scandal was there not, shortly afterwards, 
in connection with it, and how that scandal was heaped 
up later, by stories so revolting of the doings of that 
night that one is appalled at the minds that conceived 
them and the credulity that accepted them. 

Infessura writes of what he heard, and he writes 
venomously, as he betrays by the bitter sarcasm with 
which he refers to the fifty silver cups filled with 
sweetmeats which the Pope tossed into the laps of 
ladies present at the earlier part of the celebration. 
" He did it," says Infessura, " to the greater honour 
and glory of Almighty God and the Church of Rome." 
Beyond that he ventures into no great detail, checking 
himself betimes, however, with a suggested motive for 
reticence a thousand times worse than any formal 
accusation. Thus : " Much else is said, of which I 
do not write, because either it is not true, or, if true, 
incredible." * 

It is amazing that the veil which Infessura drew 
with those words should have been pierced — not 
indeed by the cold light of fact, but by the hot eye of 
prurient imagination ; amazing that he should be 
quoted at all — he who was not present — considering 

^ " Et multa alia dicta sunt, que hie non scribo, que aut non sunt, 
vel si sunt, incredibilia " (Infessura, Diarium). 


that we have the testimony of what did take place from 
the pen of an eye-witness, in a letter from Gianandrea 
Boccaccio, the ambassador of Ferrara, to his master. 

At the end of his letter, which describes the pro- 
ceedings and the wedding-gifts and their presentation, 
he tells us how the night was spent. " Afterwards 
the ladies danced, and, as an interlude, a worthy 
comedy was performed, with much music and singing, 
the Pope and all the rest of us being present through- 
out. What else shall I add ? It would make a long 
letter. The whole night was spent in this manner ; 
let your lordship decide whether well or ill." 

Is not that sufficient to stop the foul mouth of 
inventive slander ? What need to suggest happenings 
unspeakable ? Yet it is the fashion to quote the last 
sentence above from Boccaccio's letter in the original 
— " totam noctem comsumpsimus ; judicet modo Ex"*- 
Dominatio vestra si bene o male" — as though decency 
forbade its translation ; and at once this poisonous 
reticence does its work, and the imagination — and 
not only that of the unlettered — is fired, and all 
manner of abominations are speculatively conceived. 

Infessura, being absent, says that the comedies 
performed were licentious (" lascive "). But what 
comedies of that age were not ? It was an age which 
had not yet invented modesty, as we understand it. 
That Boccaccio, who was present, saw nothing unusual 
in the comedy — there was only one, according to him 
—is proved by his description of it as " worthy " 
(" una degna commedia.") 

M. Yriarte on this same subject ^ is not only petty, 
but grotesque. He chooses to relate the incident 
from the point of view of Infessura, whom, by the 
way, he translates with an amazing freedom,* and he 

^ La Vie de Cesar Borgia. 

* Thus in the matter of the fifty silver cups tossed by the Pope 
into the ladies' laps, *' sinum " is the word employed by Infessura — 
a word which has too loosely been given its general translation of 


makes bold to add regarding Gianandrea Boccaccio 
that : " It must also be said that the ambassador of 
Ferrara, either because he did not see everything^ or be- 
cause he was less austere than Infessura, was not 
shocked by the comedies, etc." ('' soit qu'il n'ait pas 
tout vu, soit qu'il ait ete moins austere qu'Infessura, 
n'est pas choque. . . .") 

M. Yriarte, you observe, does not scruple to opine 
that Boccaccio, who was present^ did not see every- 
thing ; but he has no doubt that Infessura, who was 
not present^ and who wrote from " hearsay^"* missed 

Alas ! Too much of the history of the Borgias has 
been written in this spirit, and the discrimination in 
the selection of authorities has ever been with a view 
to obtaining the more sensational rather than the 
more truthful narrative. 

Although it is known that Cesare came to Rome 
in the early part of 1493 — for his presence there is 
reported by Gianandrea Boccaccio in March of that 
year — there is no mention of him at this time in 
connection with his sister's wedding. Apparently, 
then, he was not present, although it is impossible 
to suggest where he might have been at the time. 

Boccaccio draws a picture of him in that letter, 
which is worthy of attention, " On the day before 
yesterday I found Cesare at home in Trastevere. He 
was on the point of setting out to go hunting, and 
entirely in secular habit; that is to say, dressed in 
silk and armed. Riding together, we talked a while. 
I am among his most intimate acquaintances. He is 
a man of great talent and of an excellent nature ; his 
manners are those of the son of a great prince ; above 

" bosom," ignoring that it equally means " lap " and that " lap " 
it obviously means in this instance. M. Yriarte, however, goes a 
step further, and prefers to translate it as " corsage," which at once, 
and unpleasantly, falsifies the picture ; and he adds matter to dot 
the i's to an extent certainly not warranted even by Infessura. 


everything, he is joyous and light-hearted. He is 
very modest, much superior to, and of a much finer 
appearance than, his brother the Duke of Gandia, v^ho 
also is not short of natural gifts. The archbishop never 
had any inclination for the priesthood. But his 
benefice yields him over 16,000 ducats." 

It may not be amiss — though perhaps no longer 
very necessary, after what has been written — to say 
a word at this stage on the social position of bastards in 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to emphasize 
the fact that no stigma attached to Cesar e Borgia or 
to any other member of his father's family on the 
score of the illegitimacy of their birth. 

It is sufficient to consider the marriages they con- 
tracted to perceive that, however shocking the circum- 
stances may appear to modern notions, the circum- 
stance of their father being a Pope not only cannot 
have been accounted extraordinarily scandalous (if 
scandalous at all) but, on the contrary, rendered them 
eligible for alliances even princely. 

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we see the 
bastard born of a noble, as noble as his father, display- 
ing his father's arms without debruisement and enjoy- 
ing his rank and inheritance unchallenged on the score 
of his birth, even though that inheritance should be 
a throne — as witness Lucrezia's husband Giovanni, 
who, though a bastard of the house of Sforza, suc- 
ceeded, nevertheless, his father in the Tyranny of 
Pesaro and Cotignola. 

Later we shall see this same Lucrezia, her illegiti- 
macy notwithstanding, married into the noble House of 
Este and seated upon the throne of Ferrara. And 
before then we shall have seen the bastard Cesare 
married to a daughter of the royal House of Navarre. 
Already we have seen the bastard Francesco Cibo 
take to wife the daughter of the great Lorenzo de' Me- 
dici, and we have seen the bastard Girolamo Riario 


married to Caterina Sforza — a natural daughter of 
the ducal House of Milan — and we have seen the pair 
installed in the Tyranny of Imola and Forli. A score 
of other instances might be added ; but these should 

The matter calls for the making of no philosophies, 
craves no explaining, and, above all, needs no apology. 
It clears itself. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 
— more just than our own more enlightened times —  
attributed no shame to the men and women born out of | 
wedlock, saw no reason — as no reason is there, Chris- t 
tian or Pagan — why they should suffer for a condition / 
that was none of their contriving. / 

To mention it may be of help in visualizing and 
understanding that direct and forceful epoch, and 
may even suggest some lenience in considering a 
Pope's carnal paternity. To those to whom the 
point of view of the Renaissance does not promptly 
suggest itself from this plain statement of fact, all 
unargued as we leave it, we recommend a perusal of 
Gianpietro de Crescenzi's // Nohile Romano, 

The marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to Giovanni Sforza 
tightened the relations between the Pope and Milan, 
as the Pope intended. Meanwhile, however, the 
crafty and mistrustful Lodovico, having no illusions 
as to the true values of his allies, and realizing them to 
be self-seekers like himself, with interests that were 
fundamentally different from his own, perceived that 
they were likely only to adhere to him for just so long 
as it suited their own ends. He bethought him, there- 
fore, of looking about him for other means by which 
to crush the power of Naples. France was casting 
longing eyes upon Italy, and it seemed to Lodovico 
that in France was a ready catspaw. Charles VIII, 
as the representative of the House of Anjou, had a 
certain meagre claim upon the throne of Naples ; 
if he could be induced to ride south, lance on thigh, and 


press that claim there would be an end to the dominion 
of the House of Aragon, and so an end to Lodovico's 
fears of a Neapolitan interference with his own occu- 
pation of the throne of Milan. 

To an ordinary schemer that should have been 
enough ; but as a schemer Lodovico was wholly 
extraordinary. His plans grew in the maturing, and 
took in side-issues, until he saw that Naples should be 
to Charles VHI as the cheese within the mouse-trap. 
Let his advent into Italy to break the power of Naples 
be free and open ; but, once within, he should find 
Milan and the northern allies between himself and 
his retreat, and Lodovico's should it be to bring him 
to his knees. Thus schemed Lodovico to shiver, 
first Naples and then France, before hurling the latter 
back across the Alps. A daring, bold, and yet simple 
plan of action. And what a power in Italy should not 
Lodovico derive from its success ! 

Forthwith he got secretly to work upon it, sending 
his invitation to Charles to come and make good his 
claim to Naples, offering the French troops free passage 
through his territory.^ And in the character of his 
invitation he played upon the nature of mal-formed, 
ambitious Charles, whose brain was stuffed with 
romance and chivalric rhodomontades. The con- 
quest of Naples was an easy affair, no more than a 
step in the glorious enterprise that awaited the French 
king, for from Naples he could cross to engage the 
Turk, and win back the Holy Sepulchre, thus becoming 
a second Charles the Great. 

Thus Lodovico Maria the crafty, to dazzle Charles 
the romantic, and to take the bull of impending in- 
vasion by the very horns. 

We have seen the failure of the appeal to Spain 
against the Pope made by the King of Naples. To 

^ See Corio, Storia di MilanOy and Lodovico's letter to Charles VIII, 
quoted therein, lib. viL 


that failure was now added the tightening of Rome's 
relations with Milan by the marriage between Lucrezia 
Borgia and Giovanni Sforza, and Ferrante — rumours 
of a French invasion, with Naples for its objective 
being alreadyin the air — realized that nothing remained 
him but to make another attempt to conciliate the 
Pope's Holiness. And this time he went about his 
negotiations in a manner better calculated to serve 
his ends, since his need was grown more urgent. He 
sent the Prince of Altamura again to Rome for the 
ostensible purpose of settling the vexatious matter of 
Cervetri and Anguillara and making alliance with 
the Holy Father, whilst behind Altamura was the 
Neapolitan army ready to move upon Rome should the 
envoy fail this time. 

But on the terms now put forward, Alexander was 
willing to negotiate, and so a peace was patched up 
between Naples and the Holy See, the conditions of 
which were that Orsini should retain the fiefs for his 
lifetime, but that they should revert to Holy Church 
on his death, and that he should pay the Church for 
the life-lease of them the sum of 40,000 ducats, which 
already he had paid to Francesco Cibo ; that the peace 
should be consolidated by the marriage of the Pope's 
bastard, Giuffredo, with Sancia of Aragon, the natural 
daughter of the Duke of Calabria, heir to the throne 
of Naples, and that she should bring the Principality 
of Squillace and the County of Coriate as her dowry. 

The other condition demanded by Naples — at the 
suggestion of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere — was 
that the Pope should disgrace and dismiss his Vice- 
Chancellor, Ascanio Sforza, which would have shattered 
the pontifical relations with Milan. To this, how- 
ever, the Pope would not agree, but he met Naples 
in the matter to the extent of consenting to overlook 
Cardinal della Rovere's defection and receive him back 
into favour. 

On these terms the peace was at la&t concluded in 


August of 1493, and immediately afterwards there 
arrived in Rome the Sieur Peron de Basche, an envoy 
from the King of France charged with the mission to 
prevent any alliance between Rome and Naples. 

The Frenchman was behind the fair. The Pope 
took the only course possible under the awkward 
circumstances, and refused to see the ambasssador. 
Thereupon the offended King of France held a grand 
council " in which were proposed and treated many 
things against the Pope and for the reform of the 

These royal outbursts of Christianity, these pious 
kingly frenzies to unseat an unworthy Pontiff and 
reform the Church, follow always, you will observe, 
upon the miscarriage of royal wishes. 

In the Consistory of September 1493 the Pope 
created twelve new cardinals to strengthen the Sacred 
College in general and his own hand in particular. 

Amongst these new creations were the Pope's son 
Cesare, and Alessandro Farnese, the brother of the 
beautiful Giulia. The grant of the red hat to the 
latter appears to have caused some scandal, for, owing 
to the Pope's relations with his sister, to which it was 
openly said that Farnese owed the purple, he received 
the by-name of Cardinal delta Gonella — Cardinal of 
the Petticoat. 

That was the first important step in the fortunes of 
the House of Farnese, which was to give dukes to 
Parma, and reach the throne of Spain (in the person 
of Isabella Farnese) before becoming extinct in 1758. 


Roma Bovem invenit tunc, cum fundatur aratro, 
Et nunc lapsa sue est ecce renata Bove. 

From an inscription quoted by 
Bernardino Corio. 




You see Cesare Borgia, now in his nineteenth year, 
raised to the purple with the title of Cardinal-Deacon 
of Santa Maria Nuova — notwithstanding which, how- 
ever, he continues to be known in preference, and, 
indeed, to sign himself by the title of his archbishopric, 
as Cardinal of Valencia. 

It is hardly necessary to mention that, although 
already Bishop of Pampeluna and Archbishop of 
Valencia, he had received so far only his first tonsure. 
He never did receive any ecclesiastical orders beyond 
the minor and revocable ones. 

It was said by Infessura, and has since been repeated 
by a multitude of historians, upon no better authority 
than that of this writer on hearsay and inveterate 
gossip, that, to raise Cesare to the purple, Alexander 
was forced to prove the legitimacy of that young man's 
birth, and that to this end he procured false witnesses 
to swear that he was " the son of Vannozza de' Catanei 
and her husband, Domenico d'Arignano." Already 
has this been touched upon in an earlier chapter, 
where it was shown that Vannozza never had a husband 
of the name of d'Arignano, and it might reasonably 
be supposed that this circumstance alone would have 
sufficed to restrain any serious writer from accepting 
and repeating Infessura's unauthoritative statement. 
But if more they needed, it was ready to their hands 
in the Bull of Sixtus IV of October i, 1480 — to which 
also allusion has been made — dispensing Cesare from 



proving his legitimacy : " Super defectum natalium 
od ordines et quoecumque beneficia." 

Besides that, of what avail would any false swearing 
have been, considering that Cesare was openly named 
Borgia, that he was openly acknowledged by his father, 
and that in the very Bull above mentioned he is stated 
to be the son of Roderigo Borgia ? 

This is another instance of the lightness, the reck- 
lessness with which Alexander VI has been accused 
of unseemly and illicit conduct, which it may not be 
amiss to mention at this stage, since, if not the accusa- 
tion itself, at least the matter that occasioned it belongs 
chronologically here. 

During the first months of his reign — following in 
the footsteps of predecessors who had made additions 
to the Vatican — Alexander set about the building of 
the Borgia Tower. For its decoration he brought Peru- 
gino, Pinturicchio, Volterrano, and Peruzzi to Rome. 
Concerning Pinturicchio and Alexander, Vasari tells 
us, in his Vita degli Artefici^ that over the door of 
one of the rooms in the Borgia Tower the artist 
painted a picture of the Virgin Mary in the likeness 
of Giulia Farnese (who posed to him as the model) 
with Alexander kneeling to her in adoration, arrayed 
in full pontificals. 

Such a thing would have been horrible, revolting, 
sacrilegious. Fortunately it does not even amount 
to a truth untruly told ; and well would it be if all 
the lies against the Borgias were as easy to refute. 
True, Pinturicchio did paint Giulia Farnese as the 
Madonna ; true also that he did paint Alexander 
kneeling in adoratit)n — but not to the Madonna, not 
in the sapae picture at all. The Madonna for which 
Giulia Farnese was the model is over a doorway, as 
Vasari says. The kneeling Alexander is in another 
room, and the object of his adoration is the Saviour 
rising from His tomb. 

Yet gne reputable writer after another has repeated 


that lie of Vasari's, and shocked us by the scandalous 
spectacle of a Pope so debauched and lewd that he 
kneels in pontificals, in adoration, at the feet of his 
mistress depicted as the Virgin Mary. 

In October of that same year of 1493 Cesare ac- 
companied his father on a visit to Orvieto, a journey 
which appears to have been partly undertaken in 
response to an invitation from Giulia Farnese's brother 

Orvieto was falling at the time into decay and ruin, 
no longer the prosperous centre it had been less than 
a hundred years earlier ; but the shrewd eye of 
Alexander perceived its value as a stronghold, to be 
used as an outpost of Rome or as a refuge in time of 
danger, and he proceeded to repair and fortify it. 
In the following summer Cesare was invested with 
its governorship, at the request of its inhabitants, 
who sent an embassy to the Pope with their proposal, 
— by way, no doubt, of showing their gratitude for his 
interest in the town. 

But in the meantime, towards the end of 1493, 
King Ferrante's uneasiness at the ever-swelling rum- 
ours of the impending French invasion was quickened 
by the fact that the Pope had not yet sent his son 
Giuifredo to Naples to marry Donna Sancia, as had 
been contracted. Ferrante feared the intrigues of 
Milan with Alexander, and that the latter might be 
induced, after all, to join the northern league. In 
a frenzy of apprehension, the old king was at last on 
the point of going to Milan to throw himself at the 
feet of Lodovico Sforza, who was now his only hope, 
when news reached him that his ambassadors had been 
ordered to leave France. 

That death-blow to his hopes was a death-blow to 
the man himself. Upon receiving the news he was 
smitten by an apoplexy, and upon January 25, 1494, 
he departed this life without the consolation of being 


able to suppose that any of his schemes had done 
anything to avert the impending ruin of his house. 

In spite of all Alexander's intercessions and re- 
presentations, calculated to induce Charles VIII to 
abandon his descent upon Italy ; in spite, no less, 
of the counsel he received at home from such far- 
seeing men as had his ear, the Christian King was now 
determined upon the expedition and his preparations 
were well advanced. In the month of March he 
assumed the title of King of Sicily, and sent formal 
intimation of it to Alexander, demanding his inves- 
titure at the hands of the Pope and offering to pay 
him a heavy annual tribute. Alexander was thus 
given to choose between the wrath of France and the 
wrath of Naples, and — to put the basest construction 
on his motives — he saw that the peril from an enemy 
on his very frontiers would be more imminent than 
that of an enemy beyond the Alps. It is also possible 
that he chose to be guided by his sense of justice and 
to do in the matter what he considered right. By 
whatever motive he was prompted, the result was 
that he refused to accede to the wishes of the Christian 

The Consistory which received the French ambassa- 
dor — Peron de Basche — became the scene of stormy re- 
monstrances, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, of course, 
supporting the ambassador and being supported in 
his act of insubordination by the Vice-Chancellor 
Ascanio Sforza (who represented his brother Lodovico 
in the matter) and the Cardinals Sanseverino, Colonna, 
and Savelli, all attached to French interests. Peron de 
Basche so far presumed, no doubt emboldened by this 
support, as to threaten the Pope with deposition if 
he persisted in his refusal to obey the King of France. 

You see once more that kingly attitude, and you 
shall see it yet again presently and be convinced of its 
precise worth. In one hand a bribe of heavy annual 
tribute, in the other a threat of deposition; it was 




thus they conducted their business with the Holy 
Father. In this instance his Holiness took the threat, 
and dismissed the insolent ambassador. Delia Rovere, 
conceiving that in France he had a stouter ally than 
in Naples, and seeing that he had once more incurred 
the papal anger by his open enmity, fled back to Ostia ; 
and, not feeling safe there, for the pontifical forces 
were advancing upon his fortress, took ship to Genoa, 
and thence to France, to plot the Pope's ruin with 
the exasperated Charles ; and, the charge of simony 
being the only weapon with which they could attack 
Alexander's seat upon the papal throne, the charge of 
simony was once more brandished. 

His Holiness took the matter with a becoming and 
stately calm. He sent his nephew, Giovanni Borgia, 
to Naples to crown Alfonso, and with him went Giuf- 
fredo Borgia to carry out the marriage contract with 
Alfonso's daughter, and thus strengthen the alliance 
between Rome and Naples. 

By the autumn Charles had crossed the Alps with 
the most formidable army that had ever been sent out 
of France, full ninety thousand strong. And so badly 
was the war conducted by the Neapolitan generals 
who were sent to hold him in check that the appear- 
ance of the French under the very walls of Rome was 
almost such as to take the Pope by surprise. Charles's 
advance from the north had been so swift and un- 
hindered that Alexander contemptuously said the 
French soldiers had come into Italy with wooden spurs 
and chalk in their hands to mark their lodgings. 

Charles had been well received by the intriguing 
Lodovico Sforza, with whom he visited the Castle 
of Pavia and the unfortunate Gian Galeazzo, who 
from long confinement, chagrin, and other causes was 
now reduced to the sorriest condition. Indeed, on 
October 22, some days after that visit, the wretched 
prince expired. Whether or not Lodovico had him 


poisoned, as has been alleged — a charge, which, after 
all, rests upon no proof, nor even upon the word of 
any person of reliance — his death most certainly lies 
at his ambitious uncle's door. 

Charles was at Piacenza when the news of Gian 
Galeazzo's death reached him. Like the good Chris- 
tian that he accounted himself, he ordered the most 
solemn and imposing obsequies for the poor youth for 
whom in life he had done nothing. 

Gian Galeazzo left a heart-broken girl-widow and 
two children to succeed him to the throne he had 
never been allowed to occupy — the eldest, Francesco 
Sforza, being a boy of five. Nevertheless, Lodovico 
was elected Duke of Milan. Not only did he suborn 
the Parliament of Milan to that end, but he induced 
the Emperor to confirm him in the title. To this the 
Emperor consented, seeking to mask the unscrupulous 
deed by a pitiful sophism. He expounded that the 
throne of Milan should originally have been Lodovico's, 
and never Galeazzo Maria's (Gian Galeazzo's father), 
because the latter was born before Francesco Sforza 
had become Duke of Milan, whereas Lodovico was 
born when he already was so. 

The obsequies of Gian Galeazzo completed, Charles 
pushed on. From Florence he issued his manifesto, 
and although this confined itself to claiming the king- 
dom of Naples, and said no word of punishing the Pope 
for his disobedience in crowning Alfonso and being 
now in alliance with him, it stirred up grave uneasi- 
ness at the Vatican. 

The Pope's position was becoming extremely 
difficult; nevertheless, he wore the boldest possible 
face when he received the ambassadors of France, 
and on December 9 refused to grant the letters 
patent of passage through the Pontifical States 
which the French demanded. Thereupon Charles 
advanced threateningly upon Rome, and was joined 


now by those turbulent barons Orsini, Colonna, and 

Alexander VI has been widely accused of effecting 
a volte-face at this stage and betraying his Neapoli- 
tan allies; but his conduct, properly considered, can 
hardly amount to that. What concessions he made to 
France were such as a wise and inadequately supported 
man must make to an army ninety thousand strong. 
To be recklessly and quixotically heroic is not within 
the function of Popes ; moreover, Alexander had Rome 
to think of, for Charles had sent word that, if he were 
resisted he would leave all in ruins, whereas if a free 
passage were accorded him he would do no hurt nor 
suffer any pillage to be done in Rome. 

So the Pope did the only thing consistent with 
prudence : he made a virtue of necessity and gave way 
where it was utterly impossible for him to resist. He 
permitted Charles the passage through his territory 
which Charles was perfectly able to take for himself 
if refused. There ensued an interchange of compli- 
ments between Pope and King, and early in January 
Charles entered Rome in such warlike panoply as 
struck terror into the hearts of all beholders. Of that 
entrance Paolo Giovio has left us an impressive picture. 

The vanguard was composed of Swiss and German 
mercenaries — tall fellows, these professional warriors, 
superb in their carriage and stepping in time to the 
beat of their drums ; they were dressed in variegated, 
close-fitting garments that revealed all their athletic 
symmetry. A fourth of them were armed with long, 
square-bladed halberts, new to Italy ; the remainder 
trailed their ten-foot pikes, and carried a short sword 
at their belts, whilst to every thousand of them there 
were a hundred arquebusiers. After them came the 
French infantry, without armour save the officers, who 
wore steel corselets and head-pieces. These, again, 
were followed by five thousand Gascon arbalisters, each 
shouldering his arbalest — a phalanx of short, rude 


fellows, not to be compared with the stately Swiss. 
Next came the cavalry, advancing in squadrons, 
glittering and resplendent in their steel casings ; 
2,500 of these were in full heavy armour, wielding iron 
maces and the ponderous lances that were usual also 
in Italy. Every man-at-arms had with him three 
horses, mounted by a squire and two valets (four men 
going to the lance in France). Some 5,000 of the 
cavalry were more lightly armed, in corselets and head- 
piece only, and they carried long wooden bows in 
the English fashion ; whilst some were armed with 
pikes, intended to complete the work of the heavier 
cavalry. These were followed by 200 knights — 
the very flower of French chivalry for birth and 
valour — shouldering their heavy iron maces, their 
armour covered by purple, gold-embroidered sur- 
coats. Behind them came 400 mounted archers 
forming the bodyguard of the king. 

The misshapen monarch himself was the very 
caricature of a man, hideous and grotesque as a gar- 
goyle. He was short of stature, spindle-shanked, 
rachitic and malformed, and of his face, with its colossal 
nose, loose mouth and shallow brow, Giovio says that 
" it was the ugliest ever seen on man." 

Such was the person of the young king — ^he was 
twenty-four years of age at the time — who poured 
his legions into Rome, and all full-armed as if for work 
of immediate destruction. Seen, as they were, by 
torchlight and the blaze of kindled bonfires — for night 
had fallen long before the rearguard had entered the 
city — they looked vague, fantastic, and terrifying. 
But the most awe-inspiring sight of all was kept for 
the end ; it consisted of the thirty-six pieces of artil- 
lery which brought up the rear, each piece upon a 
carriage swiftly drawn by horses, and the longest 
measuring eight feet, weighing six thousand pounds, 
and discharging an iron ball as big as a man's head. 

The king lay in the Palace of San Marco, where a 


lodging had been prepared for him, and thither on the 
day after his entrance came Cesare Borgia, with six 
Cardinals, from the Castle of Sant' Angelo, whither 
the Pope had withdrawn, to wait upon his Christian 
Majesty. Charles immediately revealed the full and 
exigent nature of his demands. He required the 
Pope's aid and counsel in the conquest of Naples, upon 
which he was proceeding ; that Cesare Borgia be 
delivered into his hands as a hostage to ensure the 
Pope's friendliness ; and that the Castle of Sant' An- 
gelo be handed over to him to be used as a retreat 
in case of need or danger. Further, he demanded 
that Prince Djem — the brother of Sultan Bajazet, 
who was in the Pope's hands — should be delivered up 
to him as a further hostage. 

This Djem (Gem, or Zizim, as his name is variously 
spelled) was the second son of Mahomet II, whose 
throne he had disputed with his brother Bajazet on 
their father's death. He had raised an army to en- 
force his claim, and had not lacked for partisans ; but 
he was defeated and put to flight by his brother. 
For safety he had delivered himself up to the Knights 
of Rhodes, whom he knew to be Bajazet's implacable 
enemies. They made him very welcome, for d'Aubus- 
son, the Grand Master of Rhodes, realized that the 
possession of the prince's person was a very fortunate 
circumstance for Christianity, since by means of 
such a hostage the Turk could be kept in submission. 
Accordingly d'Aubusson had sent him to France, and 
wrote : " While Djem lives, and is in our hands, 
Bajazet will never dare to make war upon Christians, 
who will thus enjoy great peace. Thus is it salutary 
that Djem should remain in our power." And in 
France Djem had been well received and treated 
with every consideration due to a person of his princely 

But he appears to have become a subject of con- 


tention among the Powers, several of which urged 
that he could be of greater service to Christianity 
in their hands than in those of France. Thus, the 
King of Hungary had demanded him because, being 
a neighbour of Bajazet's, he was constantly in appre- 
hension of Turkish raids. Ferdinand of Spain had 
desired him because the possession of him would 
assist the Catholic King in the expulsion of the Moors. 
Ferrante of Naples had craved him because he lived 
in perpetual terror of a Turkish invasion. 

In the end he had been sent to Rome, whither he 
went willingly under the advice of the Knights of 
Rhodes, whose prisoner he really considered himself. 
They had discovered that Bajazet was offering enor- 
mous bribes to Charles for the surrender of him, 
and they feared lest Charles should succumb to the 

So Prince Djem had come to Rome in the reign of 
Pope Innocent VIII, and there he had since remained, 
Sultan Bajazet making the Pope an annual allowance 
of forty thousand ducats for his brother's safe custody. 
He was a willing prisoner, or rather a willing exile, 
for, far from being kept a prisoner, he was treated 
at Rome with every consideration, associating freely 
with those about the Pontifical Court, and being 
frequently seen abroad in company with the Pope 
and the Duke of Gandia. 

Now Charles was aware that the Pope, in his dread 
of a French invasion, and seeing vain all his efforts 
to dissuade Charles from making his descent upon 
Italy, had appealed for aid to Bajazet. For so doing 
he has been severely censured, and with some justice, 
for the picture of the Head of Christianity making 
appeal to the infidel to assist him against Christians is 
not an edifying one. Still, it receives some measure 
of justification when we reflect what was the attitude 
of these same Christians towards their Head. 


Bajazet himself, thrown into a panic at the thought 
of Djem falling into the hands of a king who proposed 
to make a raid upon him, answered the Pope begging 
his Holiness to " have Djem removed from the tribu- 
lations of this world, and his soul transported to 
another, where he might enjoy a greater peace." 
For this service he offered the Pope 300,000 ducats, to 
be paid on delivery of the prince's body; and, if the 
price was high, so was the service required, for it 
would have ensured Bajazet a peace of mind he could 
not hope to enjoy while his brother lived. 

This letter was intercepted by Giovanni della 
Rovere, the Prefect of Sinigaglia, who very promptly 
handed it to his brother, the Cardinal Giuliano. The 
cardinal, in his turn, laid it before the King of France, 
who now demanded of the Pope the surrender of 
the person of this Djem as a further hostage. 

Alexander began by rejecting the king's proposals 
severally and collectively, but Charles pressed him to 
reconsider his refusal, and so, being again between the 
sword and the wall, the Pope was compelled to sub- 
mit. A treaty was drawn up and signed on January 15, 
the king, on his side, promising to recognize the Pope 
and to uphold him in all his rights. 

On the following day Charles made solemn act of 
veneration to the Pontiff in Consistory, kissing his 
ring and his foot, and professing obedience to him 
as the kings of France, his forbears, had ever done. 
Words for deeds ! 

Charles remained twelve days longer in Rome, 
and set out at last, on January 28, upon the conquest 
of Naples. First he went solemnly to take his leave 
of the Pope, and they parted with every outward 
mark of a mutual esteem which they most certainly 
cannot have experienced. When Charles knelt for the 
Pope's blessing, Alexander raised him up and embraced 
him ; whilst Cesare completed the show of friendli- 
ness by presenting Charles with six beautiful chargers. 


They set out immediately afterwards, the French 
king taking with him his hostages, neither of which 
he was destined to retain for long, with Cesare riding 
in the place of honour on his right. 

The army lay at Marino that night, and on the 
following at Velletri. In the latter city Charles was 
met by an ambassador of Spain — Antonio da Fonseca. 
Ferdinand and Isabella were moved at last to befriend 
their cousins of Naples, whom all else had now aban- 
doned, and at the same time serve their own interests. 
Their ambassador demanded that Charles should 
abandon his enterprise and return to France, or else 
be prepared for war with Spain. 

It is eminently probable that Cesare had knowledge 
of this ultimatum to Charles, and that his knowledge 
influenced his conduct. However that may be, he 
slipped out of Velletri in the dead of that same night 
disguised as a groom. Half a mile out of the town, 
Francesco del Sacco, an officer of the Podest^ of 
Velletri, awaited him with a horse, and on this he sped 
back to Rome, where he arrived on the night of the 
30th. He went straight to the house of one Antonio 
Flores, an auditor of the Tribunal of the Ruota and 
a person of his confidence, who through his influence 
and protection was destined to rise to the eminence 
of the archbishopric of Avignon and Papal Nuncio 
to the Court of France. 

Cesare remained at Flores's house, sending word 
to the Pope of his presence, but not attempting to 
approach the Vatican. On the following day he 
withdrew to the stronghold of Spoleto. 

Meanwhile Rome was thrown into a panic by the 
young cardinal's action and the dread of reprisals 
on the part of France. The quaking municipality 
sent representatives to Charles to assure him that Rome 
had had nothing to do with this breach of the treaty, 
and to implore him not to visit it upon the city. 
The king replied by a special embassy to the Pope, 


and there apparently dropped the matter, for a few 
days later Cesare reappeared at the Vatican. 

Charles, meanwhile, despite the threats of Spain, 
pushed on to accomplish his easy conquest. 

King Alfonso had already fled the kingdom (Janu- 
ary 25), abdicating in favour of his brother Federigo. 
His avowed object was to withdraw to Sicily, retire 
from the world, and do penance for his sins, for which 
no doubt there was ample occasion. The real spur 
was probably — as opined by Commines — cowardice ; 
for, says that Frenchman, " Jamais homme cruel ne 
fut hardi." 

Federigo's defence of the realm consigned to him 
was not conspicuous, for the French entered Naples 
almost without striking a blow within twenty days 
of their departure from Rome. 

Scarcely had Charles laid aside his armour when 
death robbed him of the second hostage he had brought 
from the Vatican. On February 25, after a week's 
illness. Prince Djem died of dysentery at the Castle 
of Capua, whither Charles had sent him. 

Rumours that he had been poisoned by the Pope 
arose almost at once ; but, considering that twenty- 
eight days had elapsed since his parting from Alexander ,^_^\S 
it was, with the best intentions in the world, rather ^ 
difficult to make that poisoning credible, until the 
bright notion was conceived, and made public, that 
the poison used was a " white powder " of unknown 
components, which did its work slowly, and killed 
the victim some time after it had been administered. 
Thus, by a bold and brazen invention, an impossible 
falsehood was made to wear a possible aspect. 

And in that you have most probably the origin of 
the famous secret poison of the Borgias. Having 
been invented to fit the alleged poisoning of Prince 
Djem, which it was desired to fasten upon the Pope 
by hook or by crook, it was found altogether too valu- 


able an invention not to be used again. By means of 
it, it became possible to lay almost any death in the 
world at the door of Alexander. 

Before proceeding to inquire further into this 
particular case, let us here and now say that, just 
as to-day there is no iflorganic toxin known to science 
that will either lie fallow for weeks in the human 
system, suddenly to become active and slay, or yet 
to kill by slow degrees involving some weeks in the 
process, so none was known in the Borgian or any other 
era. Science indeed will tell you that the very notion 
of any such poison is flagrantly absurd, and that such 
a toxic action is against all the laws of nature. 

But a scientific disquisition is unnecessary. For 
our present needs arguments of common sense should 
abundantly suffice. This poison — this white powder 
— was said to be a secret of the Borgias. If that is so, 
by what Borgia was the secret of its existence ever 
divulged ? Or, if it never was divulged, how comes 
it to be known that a poison so secret, and working 
at such distances of time, was ever wielded by them ? 

The very nature of its alleged action was such as 
utterly to conceal the hand that had administered it ; 
yet here, on the first recorded occasion of its alleged 
use, it was more or less common knowledge if Giovio 
and Guicciardini are to be believed ! 

Sagredo ^ says that Djem died at Terracina three 
days after having been consigned to Charles VIII^ of 
poison administered by Alexander, to whom Bajazet 
had promised a large sum of money for the deed. 
The same is practically Giovio's statement, save that 
Giovio causes him to die at a later date and at Gaeta ; 
Guicciardini and Corio tell a similar story, but inform 
us that he died in Naples. 

It is entirely upon the authority of these four 
writers that the Pope is charged with having poisoned 
Djem, and it is noteworthy that in the four narratives 
^ In Mem. Storiche dei Monarchi Ottomani. 


we find different dates and three different places 
given as the date and place of the Turk's death, and 
more noteworthy still that in not one instance of 
these four is date or place correctly stated. 

Now the place where Djem died, and the date of 
his death, were public facts about which there was no 
mystery ; they were to be ascertained — as they are 
still — by any painstaking examiner. His poisoning, 
on the other hand, was admittedly a secret matter, the 
truth of which it was impossible to ascertain with utter 
and complete finality. Yet of this poisoning they 
know all the secrets, these four nimble writers who 
cannot correctly tell us where or when the man died ! 

We will turn from the fictions they have left us — 
which, alas ! have but too often been preferred by 
subsequent writers to the true facts which lay just 
as ready to their hands, but of course were less sensa- 
tional — and we will consider instead the evidence of 
those contemporaries who do, at least, know the 
time and place of Djem's decease. 

If any living man might have known of a secret 
poison of the Borgias at this stage, that man was 
Burchard the Caeremoniarius, and, had he known of 
it, not for a moment would he have been silent on the 
point. Yet not a word of this secret poison shall you 
find in his diaries, and concerning the death of Djem 
he records that " on February 25 died at the Castle 
of Capua the said Djem, through meat or drink that 
disagreed with him." 

Panvinio, who, being a Neapolitan, was not likely 
to be any too friendly to the Pope — as, indeed, he 
proves again and again — tells us positively that Djem 
died of dysentry at Capua.^ 

Sanuto, writing to the Council of Ten, says that 
Djem took ill at Capua of a catarrh, which *' de- 
scended to his stomach " ; and that so he died. 

And now mark Sanuto's reasoning upon his death, 
* Fitis Pontif. Rom, 


which is the very reasoning we should ourselves em- 
ploy finally to dispose of this chatter of poisoning, did 
we not find it awaiting quotation, more authoritative 
therefore than it could be from us, and utterly irre- 
futable and conclusive in its logic. " This death is very 
harmful to the King of France, to all Italy, and chiefly 
to the Pope, who is thereby deprived of 40,000 ducats 
yearly, which was paid him by his [Djem's] brother 
for his custody. And the king showed himself 
greatly grieved by this death, and it was suspected 
that the Pope had poisoned him, which, however, 
was not to be believed, as it would have been to his 
own loss." 

Just so — to his own infinite loss, not only of the 
40,000 ducats yearly, but of the hold which the custody 
of Djem gave him upon the Turks. 

The reason assigned by those who charged Alexander 
with this crime was the bribe of 300,000 ducats offered 
by Bajazet in the intercepted letter. The offer — 
which, incidentally, had never reached the Pope — was 
instantly taken as proof of its acceptance — a singular 
case of making cause follow upon effect, a method all 
too prevalent with the Borgian chroniclers. Moreover, 
they entirely overlooked the circumstance that, for 
Djem's death in the hands of France, the Pope could 
make no claim upon Bajazet. 

Finally — though the danger be incurred of becoming 
tedious upon this point — they also forgot that, years 
before, Bajazet had offered such bribes to Charles 
for the life of Djem as had caused the Knights of 
Rhodes to remove the Turk from French keeping. 
Upon that circumstance they might, had it sorted 
with their inclinations, have set up a stronger case of 
poisoning against Charles than against the Pope, and 
they would not have been put to the necessity of 
inventing a toxin that never had place in any earthly 

It is not, by this, suggested that there is any shadow 


of a case against Charles. Djem died a perfectly- 
natural death, as is established by the only authori- 
ties competent to speak upon the matter, and his 
death was against the interests of everybody save his 
brother Bajazet ; and against nobody's so much as 
the Pope's. 



By the middle of March of that year 1495 the conquest 
of Naples was a thoroughly accomplished fact, and 
the French rested upon their victory, took their ease, 
and made merry in the capital of the vanquished 

But in the north Lodovico Sforza — now Duke of 
Milan de facto^ as we have seen — set about the second 
part of the game that was to be played. He had a 
valuable ally in Venice, which looked none too 
favourably on the French and was fully disposed to 
gather its forces against the common foe. The Council 
of Ten sent their ambassador, Zorzi, to the Pope to 
propose an alliance. 

News reached Charles in Naples of the league that 
was being formed. He laughed at it, and the matter 
was made the subject of ridicule in some of the comedies 
that were being performed for the amusement of 
his Court. Meanwhile, the intrigue against him went 
forward ; on March 26 his Holiness sent the Golden 
Rose to the Doge, and on Palm Sunday the league 
was solemnly proclaimed in St. Peter's. Its terms 
were vague ; there was nothing in it that was directly 
menacing to Charles ; it was simply declared to have 
been formed for the common good. But in the north 
the forces were steadily gathering to cut off the retreat 
of the French, and suddenly Lodovico Sforza threw 
aside the mask and made an attack upon the French 
navy at Genoa. 

At last Charles awoke to his danger and began to 



care for his safety. Rapidly he organized the occu- 
pation of Naples, and, leaving Montpensier as Viceroy 
and d'Aubigny as Captain-General, he set out for 
Rome with his army, intent upon detaching the Pope 
from the league ; for the Pope, being the immediate 
neighbour of Naples, would be as dangerous as an 
enemy as he was valuable as an ally to Charles. 

He entered Rome on June i. The Pope, however, 
was not there to receive him. Alexander had left on 
May 28 for Orvieto, accompanied by Cesare, the 
Sacred College, 200 men-at-arms, and 1,000 horse and 
3,000 foot, supplied by Venice. At Orvieto, on 
June 3, the Pontiff received an ambassador from the 
Emperor, who had joined the league, and on the 4th 
he refused audience to the ambassador of France, sent 
to him from Ronciglione, where the King had halted. 
Charles, insistent, sent again, determined to see the 
Pope ; but Alexander, quite as determined not to 
see the king, pushed on to Perugia with his escort. 

There his Holiness abode until the French and 
Italians had met on the River Taro and joined battle 
at Fornovo, of which encounter both sides claimed 
the victory. If Charles's only object was to win 
through, then the victory undoubtedly was his, for 
he certainly succeeded in cutting a way through the 
Italians who disputed his passage. But he suffered 
heavily, and left behind him most of his precious 
artillery, his tents and carriages, and the immense 
Neapolitan booty he was taking home, with which 
he had loaded (says Gregorovius) twenty thousand 
mules. All this fell into the hands of the Italian 
allies under Gonzaga of Mantua, whilst from 
Fornovo Charles's retreat was more in the nature 
of a flight. Thus he won back to France, no whit 
the better for his expedition, and the only mark of 
his passage which he left behind him was an obscene 
ailment, which, with the coming of the French into 
Italy, first manifested itself in Europe, and which 


the Italians paid them the questionable compliment 
of calling " the French disease " — morbo gallico, or il 
mal francese. 

During the Pope's visit to Perugia an incident 
occurred which is not without importance to students 
of his character, and of the character left of him by 
his contemporaries and others. 

There lived in Perugia at this time a young nun of 
the Order of St. Dominic, who walked in the way of 
St. Catherine of Siena, Colomba da Rieti by name. 
You will find some marvellous things about her in 
the Perugian chronicles of Matarazzo, which, for 
that matter, abound in marvellous things — too mar- 
vellous mostly to be true. 

When he deals with events happening beyond the 
walls of his native town Matarazzo, as an historian, is 
contemptible to a degree second only to that of those 
who quote him as an authority. When he deals with 
matters that, so to speak, befell under his very eyes, 
he is worthy, if not of credit at least of attention, for 
his " atmosphere " is valuable. 

Of this Sister Colomba Matarazzo tells us that she 
ate not nor drank, save sometimes some jujube fruit, 
and even these but rarely. " On the day of her coming 
to Perugia (which happened in 1488), as she was crossing 
the Bridge of St. Gianni some young men attempted 
to lay hands upon her, for she was comely and beautiful; 
but as they did so, she showed them the jujube fruit 
which she carried in a white cloth, whereupon they 
instantly stood bereft of strength and wits." 

Next he tells us how she would pass from life for an 
hour or two, and sometimes for half a day, and her 
pulse would cease to beat, and she would seem all 
dead. And then she would quiver and come to herself 
again, and prophesy the future, and threaten disaster. 
And again : " One morning two of her teeth were 
found to have fallen out, which had happened in 

(From the fresco by Bernardino I,uini.) 

Moittabone photo. 



fighting with the devil ; and, for the many intercessions 
which she made, and the scandals which she repaired 
by her prayers, the people came to call her saint." 

Notwithstanding all this, and the fact that she lived 
without nourishment, he tells us that the brothers 
of St. Francis had little faith in her. Nevertheless, 
the community built her a very fine monastery, which 
was richly endowed, and many nuns took the habit 
of her Order. 

Now it happened that whilst at Perugia in his 
student days, Cesare had witnessed a miracle per- 
formed by this poor ecstatic girl ; or rather he had 
arrived on the scene — the Church of St. Catherine 
of Siena — to find her, with a little naked boy in her 
lap, the centre of an excited, frenzied crowd, which 
was proclaiming loudly that the child had been dead 
andithat she had resurrected him. This was a state- 
ment which the Prior of the Dominicans did not 
seem disposed unreservedly to accept, for, when 
approached with a suggestion that the bells should 
be rung in honour of the event, he would not admit 
that he saw any cause to sanction such a course. 

In the few years that were sped since then, however, 
Sister Colomba had acquired the great reputation 
of which Matarazzo tells us, so that, throughout the 
plain of Tiber, the Dominicans were preaching her 
fame from convent to convent. In December of 1495 
Charles VIII heard of her at Siena, and was stirred 
by a curiosity which he accounted devotional — the ^ 
same curiosity that caused one of his gentlemen to 
entreat Savonarola to perform " just a little miracle " 
for the King's entertainment. You can picture the 
gloomy fanatic's reception of that invitation. 

The Pope now took the opportunity of his sojourn 
in Perugia to pay Colomba da Rieti a visit, and there 
can be no doubt that he did so in a critical spirit. 
Accompanied by Cesare and some cardinals and 
gentlemen of his following, he went to the Church of 


St. Dominic and was conducted to the sister's cell by 
the Prior — the same who in Cesare's student-days 
had refused to have the bells rung. 

Upon seeing the magnificent figure of the Pontiff 
filling the doorway of her little chamber, Sister Colom- 
ba fell at his feet, and, taking hold of the hem of his 
gown, she remained prostrate and silent for some mo- 
ments, when at last she timidly arose. Alexander set 
her some questions concerning the Divine Mysteries. 
These she answered readily at first, but, as his questions 
grew, she faltered, became embarrassed, and fell silent, 
standing before him white and trembling, no doubt 
a very piteous figure. The Pope, not liking this, 
turned to the Prior to demand an explanation, and 
admonished him sternly : " Caveto, Pater, quia ego 
Papa sum ! " 

This had the effect of throwing the Prior into con- 
fusion, and he set himself to explain that she was in 
reality very wonderful, that he himself had not at 
first believed in her, but that he had seen so much that 
he had been converted. At this stage Cesare came 
to his aid, bearing witness, as he could, that he himself 
had seen the Prior discredit her when others were 
already hailing her as a saint, wherefore, if he now was 
convinced, he must have had very good evidence to 
convince him. We can imagine the Prior's gratitude 
to the young cardinal for that timely word when he 
saw himself in danger perhaps of being called to 
account for fostering and abetting an imposture. 

What was Alexander's opinion of her in the end we 
do not know ; but we do know that he was not readily 
credulous. When, for instance, he heard that the 
stigmatae were alleged to have appeared upon the 
body of Lucia di Narni he did what might be expected 
of a sceptic of our own times rather than of a church- 
man of his superstitious age — he sent his physicians 
to examine her. 

That is but one instance of his common-sense 


attitude towards supernatural manifestations. His 
cold, calm judgement caused him to seek, by all avail- 
able and practical means, to discriminate between 
the true and the spurious in an age in which men, by 
their credulity, were but too ready to become the prey 
of any impostor. It argues a breadth of mind al- 
together beyond the times in which he had his being. 
Witches and warlocks, who elsewhere — and even 
in much later ages, and in Protestant as well as Catholic 
States — were given to the fire, he contemptuously 
ignored. The unfortunate Moors and Jews, who 
elsewhere in Europe were being persecuted by the 
Holy Inquisition and burnt at the stake as an act of 
faith for the good of their souls and the greater honour 
and glory of God, found in Alexander a tolerant pro- 
tector and in Rome a safe shelter. 

These circumstances concerning him are not suffi- 
ciently known ; it is good to know them for their 
own sake. But, apart from that, they have a great 
historical value which it is well to consider. It is 
not to be imagined that such breadth of views could 
be tolerated in a Pope in the dawn of the sixteenth 
century. The times were not ripe for it ; men did 
not understand it ; and what men do not understand 
they thirst to explain, and have a way of explaining in 
their own fashion and according to their own lights. 

A Pope who did such things could not be a good 
Pope, since such things must be abhorrent to God — 
as men conceived God then. 

To understand this is to understand much of the 
bad feeling against Alexander and his family, for 
this is the source of much of it. Because he did not 
burn witches and magicians it was presently said 
that he was himself a warlock, and that he practised 
black magic. It was not, perhaps, wanton calumny ; 
it was said in good faith, for it was the only reason 
the times could think of that should account for his 
restraint. Because he tolerated Moors and Jews 


it was presently said by some that he was a Moor, 
by others that he was a Jew, and by others still that 
he was both. 

What wonder, then, if the rancorous Cardinal 
Giuliano della Rovere venomously dubbed him Moor 
and Jew, and the rabid fanatic Savonarola screamed 
that he was no Pope at all, that he was not a Christian, 
nor did he believe in any God ? 

Misunderstood in these matters, he was believed 
to be an infidel, and no crime was too impossible to be 
fastened upon the man who was believed to be that 
in the Italy of the Cinquecento. 

Alexander, however, was very far from being an 
infidel, very far from not being a Christian, very far 
from not believing in God, as he has left abundant 
evidence in the Bulls he issued during his pontificate. 
It is certainly wrong to assume — and this is pointed 
out by I'Espinois — that a private life which seems to 
ignore the commandments of the Church must pre- 
clude the possibility of a public life devoted to the 
service of the Church. This is far from being the case. 
Such a state of things — such a dual personality — is 
by no means inconsistent with churchmen of the 
fifteenth, or, for that matter, of the twentieth century. 

The whole truth of the matter is contained in a 
Portuguese rhyme, which may roughly be translated ; 

Soundly Father Thomas preaches. 
Don't do as he does ; do as he teaches. 

A debauchee may preach virtue with salutary effect, 
just as a man may preach hygiene without practising 
the privations which it entails, or may save you from 
dyspepsia by pointing out to you what is indigestible 
without himself abstaining from it. 

Such was the case of Alexander VI, as we are justified 
in concluding from the evidence that remains. 

Let us consider the apostolic zeal revealed by his 
Bull granting America to Spain. This was practically 


conceded — as the very terms of it will show — on 
condition that Spain should employ the dominion 
accorded her over the New World for the purpose 
of propagating the Christian faith and the conversion 
and baptism of the heathen. This is strictly enjoined, 
and emphasized by the command that Spain shall 
send out God-fearing men who are learned in religion 
and capable of teaching it to the people of the newly 
discovered lands. 

Thus Alexander invented the missionary. 
To King Manuel the Fortunate (of Portugal), who 
sought his authority for the conquest of Africa, he 
similarly enjoined that he should contrive that the \ 
name of the Saviour be adored there, and the Catholic 
faith spread and honoured, to the end that the 
king " might win eternal life and the blessing of the 
Holy See." 

To the soldiers going upon this expedition his 
Holiness granted the same indulgences as to those 
who fought in the Holy Land, and he aided the kings 
of Spain and Portugal in this propagation of Chris- 
tianity out of the coffers of the Church. 

He sent to America a dozen of the children of 
St. Francis, as apostles to preach the Faith, and he 
invested them with the amplest powers. 

He prosecuted with stern rigour the heretics of 
Bohemia, who were obscenely insulting Church and 
Sacraments, and he proceeded similarly against the 
" Picards " and " Vaudois." Against the Lombard 
demoniacs, who had grown bold, were banding them- 
selves together and doing great evil to property, 
to life, and to religion, Alexander raised his mighty 

Then there is his Bull of June l, 1501, against those 
who already were turning to evil purposes the newly 
discovered printing-press. In this he inveighed | 
against the printing of matter prejudicial to healthy | 
doctrine, to good manners, and, above all, to the | 


Catholic Faith or anything that should give scandal 
to the faithful. He threatened the printers of im- 
pious works with excommunication should they 
persist, and enlisted secular weapons to punish them 
in a temporal as well as a spiritual manner. He 
ordered the preparation of indexes of all works con- 
taining anything hurtful to religion, and pronounced 
a ban of excommunication against all who should 
peruse the books so indexed. 

Thus Alexander invented the Index Expur gator tus. 

There is abundant evidence that he was a fervid 
celebrant, and of his extreme devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin — ^in whose honour he revived the ringing of 
the Angelus Bell — shall be considered later. 

Whatever his private life, it is idle to seek to show 
that his public career was other than devoted to the 
upholding of the dignity and honour of the Church. 



Having driven Charles VHI out of Italy, it still 
remained for the allies to remove all traces of his 
passage from Naples and to restore the rule of the 
House of Aragon. In this they had the aid of Fer- 
dinand and Isabella, who sent an army under the 
command of that distinguished soldier Gonzalo de 
Cordoba, known in his day as the Great Captain. 

He landed in Calabria in the spring of 1496, and 
war broke out afresh through that already sorely 
devastated land. The Spaniards were joined by the 
allied forces of Venice and the Church under the 
condotta of the Marquis Gonzaga of Mantua, the 
leader of the Italians at Fornovo. 

Lodovico had detached himself from the league, 
and again made terms with France for his own safety's 
sake. But his cousin, Giovanni Sforza, Tyrant of 
Pesaio — the husband of Lucrezia Borgia — continued 
in the pontifical army at the head of a condotta of 
600 lances. Another command in the same ranks was 
one of 700 lances under the youthful Giuffredo Borgia, 
now Prince of Squillace and the husband of Dofia 
Sancia of Aragon, a lady of exceedingly loose morals, 
who had brought to Rome the habits acquired in 
the most licentious Court of that licentious age. 

The French lost Naples even more easily than they 
had conquered it, and by July 7 Ferdinand II was 
able to re-enter his capital and reascend his throne. 
D'Aubigny, the French general, withdrew to France, 


whilst Montpensier, the Viceroy, retired to Pozzuoli, 
where he died in the following year. 

Nothing could better have suited the purposes of 
Alexander than the state of things which now prevailed, 
affording him, as it did, the means to break the power 
of the insolent Roman barons, who already had so 
vexed and troubled him. So in the Consistory of 
June I he published a Bull whereby Gentile Virginio 
Orsini, Giangiordano Orsini, and his bastard Paolo 
Orsini and Bartolomeo d'Alviano, were declared 
outlawed for having borne arms with France against 
the Church, and their possessions were confiscated 
to the State. This decree was to be enforced by the 
sword, and, for the purposes of the impending war, 
the Duke of Gandia was recalled to Rome. He arrived 
early in August, having left at Gandia his wife Maria 
Enriquez, a niece of the Royal House of Spain. 

It was Cesare Borgia who took the initiative in 
the pomp with which- his brother was received in 
Rome, riding out at the head of the entire Ponti- 
fical Court to meet and welcome the young duke. 

In addition to being Duke of Gandia, Giovanni 
Borgia was already Duke of Sessa and Prince of Teano, 
which further dignities had been conferred upon him 
on the occasion of his brother Giuffredo's marriage 
to Donna Sancia. To these the Pope now added the 
governorship of Viterbo and of the Patrimony of St. 
Peter, dispossessing Cardinal Farnese of the latter 
office to bestow it upon this well-beloved son. 

In Venice it was being related, a few months later, 
— in October — that Gandia had brought a woman 
from Spain for his father, and that the latter had 
taken her to live with him. The story is given in 
Sanuto, and of course has been unearthed and served 
up by most historians and essayists. It cannot posi- 
tively be said that it is untrue ; but it can be said 
that it is unconfirmed. There is, for instance, no 
word of it in Burchard's Diariuniy and when you 


consider how ready a chronicler of scandalous matter 
was this Master of Ceremonies, you will no doubt 
conclude that, if any foundation there had been 
for that Venetian story, Burchard would never have 
been silent on the subject. 

The Pope had taken into his pay that distinguished 
condottiero, Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino, who later 
was to feel the relentless might of Cesare. To Guido- 
baldo's command was now entrusted the punitive ex- 
pedition against the Orsini, and with him was to go 
the Duke of Gandia, ostensibly to share the leadership, 
in reality that, under so able a master, he might serve 
his apprenticeship to the trade of arms. So on 
October 25 Giovanni Borgia was very solemnly created 
Gonfalonier of the Church and Captain-General of 
the pontifical troops. On the same day the three 
standards were blessed in St. Peter's — one being the 
Papal Gonfalon bearing the arms of the Church and 
the other two the personal banners of Guidobaldo 
and Gandia. The two condottieri attended the cere- 
mony, arrayed in full armour, and received the 
white truncheons that were the emblems of their 

On the following day the army set out, accompanied 
by the Cardinal de Luna as papal legate a latere^ and 
within a month ten Orsini strongholds had surrendered. 

So far all had been easy for the papal forces ; but 
now the Orsini rallied in the last three fortresses that 
remained them — Bracciano, Trevignano, and Anguil- 
lara, and their resistance suddenly acquired a stubborn 
character, particularly that of Bracciano, which was 
captained by Bartolomeo d'Alviano, a clever, re- 
sourceful young soldier who was destined to go far. 
Thus the campaign, so easily conducted at the outset, 
received a check which caused it to drag on into the 
winter. And now the barons received further rein- 
forcements. Vitellozzo Vitelli, the Tyrant of Citt^ 
di Castello, came to the aid of the Orsini, as did also 


the turbulent Baglioni of Perugia, the della Rovere 
in Rome, and all those who were inimical to Alex- 
ander VI. On the other hand, however, the barons 
Colonna and Savelli ranged themselves on the side 
of the Pope. 

Already Trevignano had fallen, and the attack of 
the pontifical army was concentrated upon Bracciano. 
Hard pressed, and with all supplies cut off, Bartolomeo 
d'Alviano was driven to the very verge of surrender, 
when over the hills came Carlo Orsini, with the men 
of Vitellozzo Vitelli, to take the papal forces by sur- 
prise and put them to utter rout. Guidobaldo was 
made prisoner, whilst the Duke of Gandia, Fabrizio 
Colonna, and the papal legate narrowly escaped, 
and took shelter in Ronciglione, the Pope's son being 
slightly wounded in the face. 

It was a severe and sudden conclusion to a war that 
had begun under such excellent auspices for the 
Pontificals. Yet, notwithstanding that defeat, which 
had left guns and baggage in the hands of the enemy, 
the Pope was the gainer by the campaign, having 
won eleven strongholds from the Orsini in exchange 
for one battle lost. 

The barons now prepared to push home their 
advantage and complete the victory; but the Pope 
checkmated them by an appeal to Gonzalo de Cordoba, 
who promptly responded and came with Prospero 
Colonna to the aid of the Church. He laid siege to 
Ostia, which was being held for the Cardinal della 
Rovere, and compelled it to a speedy surrender, 
thereby bringing the Orsini resistance practically to 
an end. For the present the might of the barons 
was broken, and they were forced to pay Alexander 
the sum of 50,000 ducats to redeem their captured 

Gonzalo de Cordoba made a triumphal entry into 
Rome, bringing with him Monaldo.da Guerra, the 
unfortunate defender of Ostia, in chains. He was 


received with great honour by the Duke of Gandia, 
accompanied by his brother-in-law, Giovanni Sforza, 
and they escorted him to the Vatican, where the 
Pope awaited him. 

This was but one of the many occasions just then 
on which Giovanni Sforza was conspicuous in public 
in close association with his father-in-law, the Pope. 
Burchard mentions his presence at the blessing of 
the candles on the Feast of the Purification, and 
shows him to us as a candle-bearer standing on the 
Pope's right hand. Again we see him on Palm Sunday 
in attendance upon Alexander, he and Gandia standing 
together on the steps of the pontifical throne in the 
Sixtine Chapel during the Blessing of the Palms. 
There and elsewhere Lucrezia's husband is prominently 
in the public eye during those months of February 
and March of 1497, and we generally see him sharing, 
with the Duke of Gandia, the honour of close atten- 
dance upon the Pontiff, all of which but serves to 
render the more marked his sudden disappearance 
from that scene. 

The matter of his abrupt and precipitate flight from 
Rome is one concerning which it is unlikely that the 
true and complete facts will ever be revealed. It was 
public gossip at this time that his marriage with 
Lucrezia was not a happy one, and "that discord marred 
their life together. Lucrezia's reported grievance upon 
this subject reads a little vaguely to us now, whatever 
it may have conveyed at the time. She complained 
that Giovanni " did not fittingly keep her company," * 
which may be taken to mean that a good harmony 
did not prevail between them, or, almost equally well, 
that there were the canonical grounds for complaint 
against him as a husband which were afterwards 
formally preferred and made the grounds for the 
divorce. It is also possible that Alexander's ambition 
may have urged him to dissolve the marriage to the 
^ " Che non gli faceva buona compagnia." 


end that she might be free to be used again as a pawn 
in his far-reaching game. 

All that we do know positively is that, one evening 
in Holy Week, Sforza mounted a Turkish horse, 
and, on the pretext of going as far as the Church of 
Sant' Onofrio to take the air, he slipped out of Rome, 
and so desperately did he ride that, twenty-four hours 
later, he was home in Pesaro, his horse dropping dead 
as he reached the town. 

Certainly some terrible panic must have urged him, 
and this rather lends colour to the story told by 
Almerici in the Memorie di Pesaro. According to 
this, the Lord of Pesaro's chamberlain, Giacomino, 
was in Lucrezia's apartments one evening when Cesare 
was announced, whereupon, by Lucrezia's orders, 
Giacomino concealed himself behind a screen. The 
Cardinal of Valencia entered and talked freely with 
his sister, the essence of his conversation being that 
the order had been issued for her husband's death. 

The inference to be drawn from this is that 
Giovanni had been given to choose in the matter of 
a divorce, and that he had refused to be a party to 
it, whence it was resolved to remove him in a still 
more effective manner. 

Be that as it may, the chroniclers of Pesaro 
proceed to relate that, after Cesare had left her, 
Lucrezia asked Giacomino if he had heard what had 
been said, and, upon being answered in the affirmative, 
urged him to go at once and warn Giovanni. It was as 
a consequence of this alleged warning that Giovanni 
made his precipitate departure. 

A little while later, at the beginning of June, Lu- 
crezia left the Vatican and withdrew to the Convent 
of San Sisto,in the Appian Way, a step which immedi- 
ately gave rise to speculation and to unbridled gossip, 
all of which, however, is too vague to be worthy of 
the least attention. Aretino's advices to the Cardinal 
Ippolito d'Este suggest that she did not leave the 


Vatican on good terms with her family, and it is 
very possible, if what the Pesaro chroniclers state is 
true, that her withdrawal arose out of her having 
warned Giovanni of his danger and enabled him to 

At about the same time that Lucrezia withdrew to 
her convent her brother Gandia was the recipient 
of further honours at the hands of his fond father. 
The Pope had raised the fief of Benevento to a duke- 
dom, and as a dukedom conferred it upon his son, 
to him and to his legitimate heirs for ever. To this 
he added the valuable lordships of Terracina and 

Cesare, meanwhile, had by no means been forgotten, 
and already this young cardinal was — with perhaps 
the sole exception of the Cardinal d'Estouteville — 
the richest churchman in Christendom. To his many 
other offices and benefices it was being proposed to 
add that of Chamberlain of the Holy See, Cardinal 
Riario, who held the office, being grievously ill and his 
recovery despaired of. Together with that office it 
was the Pope's avowed intention to bestow upon 
Cesare the palace of the late Cardinal of Mantua, 
and with it, no doubt, he would receive a proportion 
of the dead cardinal's benefices. 

Cesare was twenty-two years of age at the time ; 
tall, of an athletic slenderness, and exceedingly graceful 
in his movements, he was acknojvledged to be the 
handsomest man of his age. His face was long and 
piale, Eis brow lofty, his nose delicately aquiline. He 
had long auburn hair, and his hazel eyes, large, quick 
in their movements, and singularly searching in their 
glance, were alive with the genius of the soul behind 
them. He inherited from his father the stupendous 
health and vigour for which Alexander had been 
remarkable in his youth, and was remarkable still in 
his old age. The chase had ever been Cesare's favour- 
ite pastime, and the wild boar his predilect quarry ; 


and in the pursuit of it he had made good use of his 
exceptional physical endowments, cultivating them 
until — like his father before him — he was equal to 
the endurance of almost any degree of fatigue. 

In the Consistory of June 8 he was appointed legate 
a latere to go to Naples to crown King Federigo of 
Aragon — for in the meanwhile another change had 
taken place on the Neapolitan throne by the death 
of young Ferdinand II, who had been succeeded by 
his uncle, Federigo, Prince of Altamura. 

Cesare made ready for his departure upon this im- 
portant mission, upon which he was to be accompanied 
by his brother Giovanni, Duke of Gandia. They 
were both to be back in Rome by September, when 
Gandia was to return to Spain, taking with him his 
sister Lucrezia. 

Thus had the Pope disposed ; but the Borgia 
family stood on the eve of the darkest tragedy asso- 
ciated with its name, a tragedy which was to alter 
all these plans. 



On Jun^ 14, 1497, the eve of Cesare and Giovanni 
Borgia's departure for Naples, their mother Vannozza 
gave them a farewell supper in her beautiful vineyard 
in Trastevere. In addition to the two guests of honour 
several other kinsmen and friends were present, among 
whom were the Cardinal of Monreale and young 
Giuffredo Borgia. They remained at supper until 
an advanced hour of the night, when Cesare and 
Giovanni took their departure, attended only by a 
few servants and a mysterious man in a mask, who 
had come to Giovanni whilst he was at table, and who 
almost every day for about a month had been in the 
habit of visiting him at the Vatican. 

The brothers and these attendants rode together 
into Rome and as far as the Vice- Chancellor Ascanio 
Sforza's palace in the Ponte Quarter. Here Giovanni 
drew rein, and informed Cesare that he would not 
be returning to the Vatican just yet, as he was first 
"going elsewhere to amuse himself." With that he 
took his leave of Cesare, and, with one single exception 
— in addition to the man in the mask — dismissed his 
servants. The latter continued their homeward way 
with the cardinal, whilst the Duke, taking the man 
in the mask upon the crupper of his horse and followed 
by his single attendant, turned and made off in the 
direction of the Jewish quarter. 

In the morning it was found that Giovanni had 
not yet returned, and his uneasy servants informed the 



Pope of his absence and of the circumstances of it. 
The Pope, however, was not at all alarmed. Explaining 
his son's absence in the manner so obviously suggested 
by Giovanni's parting words to Cesare on the previous 
night, he assumed that the gay young Duke was on 
a visit to some complacent lady and that presently 
he would return. 

Later in the day, however, news was brought that 
his horse had been found loose in the streets, in the 
neighbourhood of the Cardinal of Parma's palace, 
with only one stirrup-leather, the other having clearly 
been cut from the saddle, and, at the same time, it was 
related that the servant who had accompanied him 
after he had separated from the rest had been found at 
dawn in the Piazza della Giudecca mortally wounded 
and beyond speech, expiring soon after his removal 
to a neighbouring house. 

Alarm spread through the Vatican, and the anxious 
Pope ordered inquiries to be made in every quarter 
where it was possible that anything might be learned. 
It was in answer to these inquiries that a boatman of 
the Schiavoni — one Giorgio by name — came forward 
with the story of what he had seen on the night of 
Wednesday. He had passed the night on board his 
boat, on guard over the timber with which she was 
laden. She was moored along the bank that runs 
from the Bridge of Sant' Angelo to the Church of 
Santa Maria Nuova. 

He related that at about the fifth hour of the night, 
just before daybreak, he had seen two men emerge 
from the narrow street alongside the Hospital of San 
Girolamo, and stand on the river's brink at the spot 
where it was usual for the scavengers to discharge 
their refuse carts into the water. These men had 
looked carefully about, as if to make sure that they were 
not being observed. Seeing no one astir, they made a 
sign, whereupon a man well mounted on a handsome 
white horse, his heels armed with golden spurs, rode 

(From the fresco by Pinturicchio.) 

Anderson photo. 



out of that same narrow street. Behind him, on the 
crupper of his horse, Giorgio beheld the body of a 
man, the head hanging in one direction and the legs 
in the other. This body was supported there by 
two other men on foot, who walked on either side 
of the horseman. 

Arrived at the water's edge, they turned the horse's 
hind-quarters to the river ; then, taking the body 
between them, two of them swung it well out into 
the stream. After the splash, Giorgio had heard the 
horseman inquire whether they had thrown well into 
the middle, and had heard him receive the affirmative 
answer — " Signor, si." The horseman then sat scan- 
ning the surface a while, and presently pointed out a 
dark object floating, which proved to be their victim's 
cloak. The men threw stones at it, and so sank it, 
whereupon they turned, and all five departed as they 
had come. 

Such is the boatman's story, as related in the 
Diarium of Burchard. When the Pope had heard it, 
he asked the fellow why he had not immediately gone 
to give notice of what he had witnessed, to which 
this Giorgio repHed that, in his time, he had seen over 
a hundred bodies thrown into the Tiber without ever 
anybody troubhng to know anything about them. 

This story and Gandia's continued absence threw 
the Pope into a frenzy of apprehension. He ordered 
the bed of the river to be searched foot by foot. Some 
hundreds of boatmen and fishermen got to work, 
and on that same afternoon the body of the ill-fated 
Duke of Gandia was brought up in one of the nets. 
He was not only completely dressed — as was^ to have 
been expected from Giorgio's story — but his gloves 
and his purse containing thirty ducats were still at 
his belt, as was his dagger, the only weapon he had 
carried ; the jewels upon his person, too, were all 
intact, which made it abundantly clear that his assas- 
sination was not the work of thieves. 


His hands were still tied, and there were from ten 
to fourteen wounds on his body, in addition to which 
his throat had been cut. 

The corpse was taken in a boat to the Castle of 
Sant' Angelo, where it was stripped, washed, and ar- 
rayed in the garments of the Captain-General of 
the Church. That same night, on a bier, the body 
covered with a mantle of brocade, the face " looking 
more beautiful than in life," he was carried by. torch- 
light from Sant' Angelo to Santa Maria del Popolo 
for burial, quietly and with little pomp. 

The Pope's distress was terrible. As the procession 
was crossing the Bridge of Sant' Angelo, those who 
stood there heard his awful cries of anguish, as is related 
in the dispatches of an eye-witness quoted by Sanuto. 
Alexander shut himself up in his apartments with his 
passionate sorrow, refusing to see anybody ; and it 
was only by insistence that the Cardinal of Segovia 
and some of the Pope's familiars contrived to gain 
admission to his presence; but even then, not for 
three days could they induce him to taste food, 
nor did he sleep. 

At last he roused himself, partly in response to the 
instances of the Cardinal of Segovia, partly spurred 
by the desire to avenge the death of his child, and he 
ordered Rome to be ransacked for the assassins ; but, 
although the search was pursued for two months^ it 
proved utterly fruitless. 

That is the oft-told story of the death of the Duke 
of Gandia. Those are all the facts concerning it that 
are known or that ever will be known. The rest is 
speculation, and this speculation follows the trend of 
malice rather than of evidence. 

Suspicion fell at first upon Giovanni Sforza, who 
was supposed to have avenged himself thus upon the 
Pope for the treatment he had received. There 
certainly existed that reasonable motive to actuate 


him, but not a particle of evidence against him. 
Next rumour had it that Cardinal Ascanio Sforza's 
was the hand that had done this work, and with this 
rumour Rome was busy for months. It was known 
that he had quarrelled violently with Gandia, who 
had been grossly insulted by a chamberlain of 
Ascanio's, and who had wiped out the insult by 
having the man seized and hanged. 

Sanuto quotes a letter from Rome on July 21, which 
states that " it is certain that Ascanio murdered the 
Duke of Gandia." Cardinal Ascanio's numerous 
enemies took care to keep the accusation alive at the 
Vatican, and Ascanio, in fear for his life, had left 
Rome and fled to Grottaferrata. When summoned 
to Rome, he had refused to come save under safe- 
conduct. His fears, however, appear to have been 
groundless, for the Pope attached no importance to 
the accusation against him, convinced of his innocence, 
as he informed him. 

Thereupon public opinion looked about for some 
other likely person upon whom to fasten its indict- 
ment, and lighted upon Giuffredo Borgia, Gandia's 
youngest brother. Here, again, a motive was not 
wanting. Already has mention been made of the 
wanton ways of Giuffredo's Neapolitan wife, Doiia 
Sancia. That she was prodigal of her favours there 
is no lack of evidence, and it appears that, amongst 
those she admitted to them, was the dead duke. 
Jealousy, then, it was alleged, was the spur that had 
driven Giuffredo to the deed ; and that the rumour 
of this must have been insistent is clear when we find 
the Pope publicly exonerating his youngest son. 

Thus matters stood, and thus had public opinion 
spoken, when in the month of August the Pope ordered 
the search for the murderer to cease. Bracci, the 
Florentine ambassador, explains this action of Alex- 
ander's. He writes that his Holiness knew who were 
the murderers, and that he was taking no further steps 


in the matter in the hope that thus, conceiving them- 
selves to be secure, they might more completely 
discover themselves. 

Bracci's next letter bears out the supposition that 
he writes from inference, and not from knowledge. 
He repeats that the investigations have been suspended, 
and that to account for this some say what already 
he has written, whilst others deny it ; but that the 
truth of the matter is known to none. 

Later in the year we find the popular voice denounc- 
ing Bartolomeo d'Alviano and the Orsini. Already 
in August the Ferrarese ambassador, Manfredi, had 
written that the death of the Duke of Gandia was being 
imputed to Bartolomeo d'Alviano, and in December 
we see in Sanuto a letter from Rome which announces 
that it is positively stated that the Orsini had caused 
the death of Giovanni Borgia. 

These various rumours were hardly worth mention- 
ing for their own values, but they are important 
as showing how public opinion fastened the crime 
in turn upon everybody it could think of as at all 
likely to have had cause to commit it, and more im- 
portant still for the purpose of refuting what has since 
been written concerning the immediate connection J 
of Cesare Borgia with the crime in the popular mind.// 
Not until February of the following year was the J 
name of Cesare ever mentioned in connection with 
the deed. The first rumour of his guilt synchronized 
with that of his approaching renunciation of his 
ecclesiastical career, and there can be little doubt 
that the former sprang from the latter. The world 
conceived that it had discovered on Cesare's part a 
motive for the murder of his brother. That motive 
— of which so very much has been made — shall pre- 
sently be examined. Meanwhile, to deal with the 
actual rumour, and its crystallization into history. 
The Ferrarese ambassador heard it in Venice on 
February 12, 1498. Capello seized upon it, and 


repeated it two and a half years later, stating on 
September 28, 1500 : " etiam amazo il fratello." 

And there you have the whole source of all the 
unbridled accusations subsequently launched against 
Cesare, all of which find a prominent place in 
Gregorovius's Geschichte der Stadt Rom, whilst the 
rumours accusing others, which we have mentioned 
here, are there slurred over. 

One hesitates to attack the arguments and con- 
clusions of the very eminent author of that mighty 
History of Rome in the Middle Ages, but conscience 
and justice demand that his chapter upon this subject 
be dealt with as it deserves. 

The striking talents of Gregorovius are occasionally 
marred by the egotism and pedantry sometimes charac- 
teristic of the scholars of his nation. He is too posi- 
tive ; he seldom opines ; he asserts with finality the 
things that only God can know ; occasionally his 
knowledge, transcending the possible, quits the realm 
of the historian for that of the romancer, as for instance 
— to cite one amid a thousand — when he actually tells 
us what passes in Cesare Borgia's mind at the coro- l/l\ 
nation of the King of Naples. In the matter of "^ 
authorities, he follows a dangerous and insidious 
eclecticism, preferring those who support the point 
of view which he has chosen, without a proper regard 
for their intrinsic values. 

He tells us definitely that, if Alexander had not 
positive knowledge, he had at least moral conviction 
that it was Cesare who had killed the Duke of Gandia. 
In that, again, you see the God-like knowledge which 
he usurps ; you see him clairvoyant rather than 
historical. Starting out with the positive assertion 
that Cesare Borgia was the murderer, he sets himself to 
prove it by piling up a mass of worthless evidence, 
whose worthlessness it is unthinkable he should not 
have realized. 

" According to the general opinion of the day, 


which in all probability was correct, Cesare was the 
murderer of his brother." 

Thus Gregorovius in his Lucrezia Borgia. A 
deliberate misstatement 1 For, as we have been at 
pains to show, not until the crime had been fastened 
upon everybody whom public opinion could conceive 
to be a possible assassin, not until nearly a year after 
Gandia's death did rumour for the first time connect 
Cesare with the deed. Until then the ambassadors' 
letters from Rome in dealing with the murder and 
reporting speculation upon possible murderers never 
make a single allusion to Cesare as the guilty person. 

Later, when once it had been bruited, it found its 
way into the writings of every defamer of the Borgias, 
and from several of these it is taken by Gregorovius 
to help him uphold that theory. 

Two motives were urged for the crime. One was 
Cesare's envy of his brother, whom he desired to 
supplant as a secular prince, fretting in the cassock 
imposed upon himself which restrained his unbounded 
ambition. The other — and no epoch but this one 
under consideration, in its reaction from the age 
of chivalry, could have dared to level it without 
a careful examination of its sources — was Cesare's 
jealousy, springing from the incestuous love for their 
sister Lucrezia, which he is alleged to have disputed 
with his brother. Thus, as I'Espinois has pointed out, 
to convict Cesare Borgia of a crime which cannot 
absolutely be proved against him, all that is necessary 
is that he should be charged with another crime still 
more horrible of which even less proof exists. 

This latter motive, it is true, is rejected by 
Gregorovius. " Our sense of honesty," he writes, 
" repels us from attaching faith to the belief spread 
in that most corrupt age." Yet the authorities urging 
one motive are commonly those urging the other, and 
Gregorovius quotes those that suit him, without 
considering that, if he is convinced they lie in one 


connection, he has not the right to assume them 
truthful in another. 

The contemporary, or quasi-contemporary writers 
upon whose " authority " it is usual to show that 
Cesare Borgia was guilty of both those revolting 
crimes are : Sanazzaro, Capello, Macchiavelli, Mata- 
razzo, Sanuto, Pietro Martire d'Anghiera, Guicciar- 
dini, and Panvinio. 

A formidable array! But consider them, one by 
one, at close quarters, and take a critical look at 
what they actually wrote : 

Sanazzaro was a Neapolitan poet and epigram- 
matist, who could not — his times being what they 
were — be expected to overlook the fact that in these 
slanderous rumours of incest was excellent matter 
for epigrammatical verse. Therefore, he crystallized 
them into lines which, whilst doing credit to his wit, 
reveal his brutal cruelty. No one will seriously sup- 
pose that such a man would be concerned with the 
veracity of the matter of his verses — even leaving 
out of the question his enmity towards the House 
of Borgia, which will transpire later. For him a ben 
trovato was as good matter as a truth, or better. He 
measured its value by its piquancy, by its adaptability 
to epigrammatic rhymes. 

Conceive the heartlessness of the man who, at the 
moment of Alexander's awful grief at the murder of 
his son — a grief which so moved even his enemies 
that the bitter Savonarola, and the scarcely less bitter 
Cardinal della Rovere, wrote to condole with him — 
could pen that terrible epigram : 

Piscatorem hominum ne te non, Sexte, putemus, 
Piscaris notum retibus ecce tuum. 

Consider the ribaldry of that, and ask yourselves 
whether this is a man who would immolate the 
chance of a witticism upon the altar of Truth. 


It is significant that Sanazzaro, for what he may be 
worth, confines himself to the gossip of incest. No- 
where does he mention that Cesare was the murderer, 
and we think that his silence upon the matter, if it 
shows anything, shows that Cesare's guilt was not so 
very much the " general opinion of the day," as Gre- 
gorovius asks us to believe. 

Capello was not in Rome at the time of the murder, 

nor until three years later, when he merely repeated 

the rumour that had first sprung up some eight 

months after the crime. 

r'- The precise value of his famous " relation " (in which 

l\ this matter is recorded, and to which we shall return 

y in its proper place) and the spirit that actuated him 

; is revealed in another accusation of murder which he 

1 levels at Cesare, an accusation which, of course, has also 

^ been widely disseminated upon no better authority than 

his own. It is Capello who tells us that Cesare stabbed 

I the chamberlain Perrotto in the Pope's very arms ; he 

\ adds the details that the man had fled thither for shelter 

from Cesare's fury, and that the blood of him, when he 

\ was stabbed, spurted up into the very face of the Pope. 

- Where he got the story is not readily surmised — unless 

it be assumed that he evolved it out of his feelings 

for the Borgias. The only contemporary accounts 

of the death of this Perrotto — or Pedro Caldes, as was 

his real name — state that he fell by accident into the 

Tiber and was drowned. 

Burchard, who could not have failed to know if 
the stabbing story had been true, and would not have 
failed to report it, chronicles the fact that Perrotto 
was fished out of Tiber, having fallen in six days 
earlier — " non libenter." This statement, coming from 
the pen of the Master of Ceremonies at the Vatican, 
requires no further corroboration. Yet corroboration 
there actually is in a letter from Rome of February 20, 
1498, quoted by Marino Sanuto in his Diarii. This 


states that Perrotto had been missing for some days, 
no one knowing what had become of him, and that 
now " he has been found drowned in the Tiber." 

We mention this, in passing, with the twofold 
object of slaying another calumny, and revealing the 
true value of Capello, who happens to be the chief 
" witness for the prosecution " put forward by Gre- 
gorovius. *' Is it not of great significance," inquires 
the German historian, " that the fact should have 
been related so positively by an ambassador who ob- 
tained his knowledge from the best sources ? " 

The question is frivolous, for the whole trouble 
in this matter is that there were no sources at all, 
in the proper sense of the word — good or bad. There 
was simply gossip, which had been busy with a dozen 
names already. 

Macchiavelli includes a note in his Extracts 
from Letters to the Ten^ in which he mentions the death 
of Gandia, adding that *' at first nothing was known, 
and then men said it was done by the Cardinal of 

There is nothing very conclusive in that. Besides, 
incidentally it may be mentioned, that it is not clear 
when or how these extracts were compiled by Mac- 
chiavelli (in his capacity of Secretary to the Signory 
of Florence) from the dispatches of her ambassadors. 
But it has been shown — though we are hardly con- 
cerned with that at the moment — that these extracts 
are confused by comments of his own, either for his 
own future use or for that of another. 

Matarazzo is the Perugian chronicler of whom w« 
have already expressed the only tenable opinion. 
The task he set himself was to record the contempor- 
ary events of his native town — the stronghold of the 
blood-dripping Baglioni. He enlivened it by every 
scrap of scandalous gossip that reached him, however 


alien to his avowed task. The authenticity of this 
scandalmongering chronicle has been questioned ; 
but, even assuming it to be authentic, it is so wildly 
inaccurate when dealing with matters happening 
beyond the walls of Perugia as to be utterly worthless. 

Matarazzo relates the story of the incestuous re- 
lations prevailing in the Borgia family, and with an 
unsparing wealth of detail not to be found elsewhere ; 
but on the subject of the murder he has a tale to tell 
entirely different from any other that has been left 
us. For, whilst he urges the incest as the motive of 
the crime, the murderer, he tells us, was Giovanni 
Sforza, the outraged husband ; and he gives us the 
fullest details of that murder, time and place and exactly 
how committed, and all the other matters which have 
never been brought to light. 

It is all a worthless, garbled piece of fiction, most 
obviously ; as such it has ever been treated ; but it 
is as plausible as it is untrue, and, at least, as authori- 
tative as any available evidence assigning the guilt 
to Cesare. 

Sanuto we accept as a more or less careful and 
painstaking chronicler, whose writings are valuable ; 
and Sanuto on the matter of the murder confines him- 
self to quoting the letter of February 1498, in which 
the accusation against Cesare is first mentioned, after 
having given other earlier letters which accuse first 
Ascanio and then Orsini far more positively than does 
the latter letter accuse Cesare. 

On the matter of the incest there is no word in 
Sanuto; but there is mention of Dona Sancia's in- 
discretions, and the suggestion that, through jealousy 
on her account, it was rumoured that the murder 
had been committed — another proof of how vague 
and ill-defined the rumours were. 

PiETRO Martire d'Anghiera writes from Burgos, 
in Spain, that he is convinced of the fratricide. It 


is interesting to know of that conviction of his ; but 
difficult to conceive hov^ it is to be accepted as evidence. 
If more needs to be said of him, let it be mentioned 
that the letter in v^hich he expresses that conviction 
is dated April 1497 — two months before the murder 
took place ! So that even Gregorovius is forced to 
doubt the authenticity of that document. 

GuicciARDiNi is not a contemporary chronicler of 
events as they happened, but an historian writing some 
thirty years later. He merely repeats what Capello 
and others have said before him. It is for him to 
quote authorities for what he writes, and not to be 
set up as an authority. He is not reliable, and he is 
a notorious defamer of the Papacy, sparing nothing 
that will serve his ends. He dilates with gusto upon 
the accusation of incest. 

Lastly, Pan VI NIG is in the same category as Guic- 
ciardini. He was not born until some thirty years after 
these events, and his History of the Popes was not 
written until some sixty years after the murder of 
the Duke of Gandia. This history bristles with in- 
accuracies ; Re never troubles to verify his facts, and 
as an authority he is entirely negligible. 

In the valuable Diarium of Burchard there is un- 
fortunately a lacuna at this juncture, from the day 
after the murder (of which he gives the full particulars 
to which we have gone for our narrative of that event) 
until the month of August following. And now we 
may see Gregorovius actually using silence as evidence. 
He seizes upon that lacuna, and goes so far as to set 
up the tentative explanation that Burchard " perhaps 
purposely interrupted his Diary that he might avoid 
mentioning the fratricide." 

If such were the case, it would be a strange departure 
from Burchard's invariable rule, which is one of cold, 


relentless, uncritical chronicling of events, no matter 
what their nature. Besides, any significance with 
which that lacuna might be invested is discounted 
by the fact that such gaps are of fairly common oc- 
currence in the course of Burchard's record. Finally 
it remains to be shown that the lacuna in question 
exists in the original diaries, which have yet to be 

So much for the valuable authorities, out of which 
— and by means of a selection which is not quite 
clearly defined — Gregorovius claims to have proved 
that the murderer of the Duke of Gandia was his 
brother Cesare Borgia, Cardinal of Valencia.* 

Now to examine more closely the actual motives 
given by those authorities and by later, critical writers, 
for attributing the guilt to Cesare. 

In September of the year 1497, the Pope had 
dissolved the marriage of his daughter Lucrezia and 
Giovanni Sforza, and the grounds for the dissolution 
were that the husband was impotens et frigidus natura 
— admitted by himself.^ 

If you know anything of the Italy of to-day, you 
will be able to conceive for yourself how the Italy 
of the fifteenth century must have held her sides 
and pealed her laughter at the contemptible spectacle 

* It is rather odd that, in the course of casting about for a possible 
murderer of Gandia, public opinion should never have fastened upon 
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. He had lately been stripped of the 
Patrimony of St. Peter that the governorship of this might be bestowed 
upon Gandia ; his resentment had been provoked by that action of 
the Pope's, and the relations between himself and the Borgias were 
strained in consequence. Possibly there was clear proof that he could 
have had no connection with the crime. 

^ " El S. de Pesaro ha scripto qua de sua mano non haverla mai 
cognosciuta et esser impotente, alias la sententia rion se potea dare. 
El prefato S. dice pero haver scripto cosi per obedire el Duca de Milano 
et Aschanio " (CoUenuccio's letter from Rome to the Duke of Ferrara, 
Dec. 25, 1497). 


of an unfortunate who afforded such reason to be 

bundled out of a nuptial bed. The echo of that 

mighty burst of laughter must have rung from 

Calabria to the Alps, and well may it have filled the 

handsome weakling who was the object of its cruel 

ridicule with a tahon fury. The weapons he took 

up wherewith to defend himself were a little obvious. 

He answered the odious reflections upon his virility 

by a wholesale charge of incest against the Borgia 

family ; he screamed that what had been said of him 

was a lie invented by the Borgias to serve their own 

unutterable ends.^ Such was the accusation with 

which the squirming Lord of Pesaro retaliated, and, 

however obvious, yet it was not an accusation that 

the world of his day would lightly cast aside, for all 

that the perspicacious may have rated it at its proper 


What is of great importance to students of the 
history of the Borgias is that this was the first occasion 
on which the accusation of incest was raised. Of 
course it persisted ; such a charge could not do other- 
wise. But now that we see in what soil it had its 
roots we shall know what importance to attach to it. 

Not only did it persist, but it developed, as was 
but natural. Cesare and the dead Gandia were in- 
cluded in it, and presently it suggested a motive — not 
dreamed of until then — why Cesare might have been 
his brother's murderer. 

Then, early in 1498, came the rumour that Cesare 
was intending to abandon the purple ; and later 
writers, from Capello down to our own times, have 
chosen to see in Cesare's supposed contemplation of 

* " Et mancho se e curato de fare prova de qua con Done per poterne 
chiarire el Rev. Legato che era qua, sebbene sua Excellentia tastandolo 
sopra cio gli ne abbia facto offerta." And further : " Anzi haverla 
conosciuta infinite volte, ma chel Papa non gelha tolta per altro se 
non per usare con lei " (Costabili's letter from Milan to the Duke of 
Fcrrara, June 23, 1497J. 


that step a motive so strong for the crime as to 
prove it in the most absolutely conclusive manner. 
In no case could it be such proof, even if it were ad- 
mitted as a motive. But is it really so to be admitted ? 
Did such a motive exist at all ? Does it really follow 
— as has been taken for granted — that Cesare must 
have remained an ecclesiastic had Gandia lived ? We 
cannot see that it does. Indeed, such evidence as 
there is, when properly considered, points in the oppo- 
site direction, even if no account is taken of the fact 
that this was not the first occasion on which it was 
proposed that Cesare should abandon the ecclesi- 
astical career, as is shown by the Ferrarese ambassador's 
dispatches of March 1493. 

It is contended that Gandia was a stumbling-block 
to Cesare, and that Gandia held the secular possessions 
which Cesare coveted; but if that were really the 
case why, when eventually (some fourteen months 
after Gandia's death) Cesare doffed the purple to re- 
place it by a soldier's harness, did he not assume the 
secular possessions that had been his brother's ? 

His dead brother's lands and titles went to his dead 
brother's son, whilst Cesare's career was totally differ- 
ent, as his aims were totally different, from any that 
had been Gandia's, or that might have been Gandia's 
had the latter lived. True, Cesare became Captain- 
General of the Church in his dead brother's place ; 
but for that his brother's death was not necessary. 
Gandia had neither the will nor the intellect to under- 
take the things that awaited Cesare. He was a soft- 
natured, pleasure-loving youth, whose way of life was 
already mapped out for him. His place was at Gandia, 
in Spain, and, whilst he might have continued lord of 
all the possessions that were his, it would have been 
Cesare's to become Duke of Valentinois, and to have 
made himself master of Romagna, precisely as he did. 

In conclusion, Gandia's death no more advanced, 
than his life could have impeded, the career which 


Cesare afterwards made his own, and to say that Cesare 
murdered him to supplant him is to set up a theory 
which the subsequent facts of Cesare's life will nowise 

It is idle of Gregorovius to say that the logic of 
the crime is inexorable — ^in its assigning the guilt to 
Cesare — fatuous of him to suppose that, as he claims, 
he has definitely proved Cesare to be his brother's 

There is much against Cesare Borgia, but it never 
has been proved, and never will be proved, that he was 
a fratricide. Indeed the few really known facts of 
the murder all point to a very different conclusion — 
a conclusion more or less obvious, which has been 
discarded, presumably for no better reason than 
because it was obvious. 

Where was all this need to go so far afield in quest 
of a probable murderer imbued with political motives ? 
Where the need to accuse in turn every enemy that 
Gandia could possibly possess before finally fastening 
upon his own brother ? 

Certain evidence is afforded by the known facts of 
the case, scant as they are. It may not amount to 
much, but at least it is sufficient to warrant a plausible 
conclusion, and there is no justification for discarding 
it in favour of something for which not a particle of 
evidence is forthcoming. 

There is, first of all, the man in the mask to be ac- 
counted for. That he is connected with the crime 
is eminently probable, if not absolutely certain. 

It is to be remembered that for a month — according 
to Burchard — he had beep in the habit of visiting 
Gandia almost daily. He comes to Vannozza's villa 
on the night of the murder. Is it too much to suppose 
that he brought a message from some one from whom 
he was in the habit of bringing messages ? 

He was seen last on the crupper of Gandia's horse 


as the latter rode away towards the Jewish quarter.* 
Gandia himself announced that he was bound on 
pleasure — going to amuse himself. Even without the 
knowledge which we possess of his licentious habits, 
no doubt could arise as to the nature of the amuse- 
ment upon which he was thus bound at dead of night ; 
and there are the conclusions formed in the morning 
by his father, when it was found that Gandia had 
not returned. 

Is it so very difficult to conceive that Gandia, in the 
course of the assignation to which he went, should have 
fallen into the hands of an irate father, husband, or 
brother ? Is it not really the obvious inference to 
draw from the few facts that we possess ? That it 
was the inference drawn by the Pope and clung to 
even some time after the crime and while rumours 
of a different sort were rife, is shown by the perquisi- 
tion made in the house of Antonio Pico della Miran- 
dola, who had a daughter whom it was conceived 
might have been the object of the young duke's 
nocturnal visit, and whose house was near the place 
where Gandia was flung into the Tiber. 

We could hazard speculations that would account 
for the man in the mask, but it is not our business 
to speculate save where the indications are fairly clear. 

Let us consider the significance of Gandia's tied 
hands and the wounds upon his body in addition to 
the mortal gash across his throat. To what does this 
condition point ? Surely not to a murder of ex- 
pediency so much as to a fierce, lustful butchery of 
vengeance. Surely it suggests that Gandia may have 
been tortured before his throat was cut. Why else 
were his wrists pinioned ? Had he been swiftly done 
to death there would have been no need for that. 
Had hired assassins done the work they' would not 
have stayed to pinion him, nor do we think they would 

* The Ghetto was not yet in existence. It was not built until 1556, 
under Paul IV. 

'- ', ' 

^ > ^ :' '^J'.\'^ '' - 



have troubled to fling him into the river ; they would 
have slain and left him where he fell. 

The whole aspect of the case suggests the presence 
of the master, of the personal enemy himself. We can 
conceive Gandia's wrists being tied, to the end that 
this personal enemy might do his will upon the 
wretched young man, dealing him one by one the ten 
or fourteen wounds in the body before making an 
end of him by cutting his throat. We cannot explain 
the pinioned wrists in any other way. Then the man 
on the handsome white horse, the man whom the 
four others addressed as men address their lord. 
Remember his gold spurs — a trifle, perhaps ; but 
hired assassins do not wear gold spurs, even though 
their bestriding handsome white horses may be ex- 

Surely that was the master, the personal enemy 
himself — and it was not Cesare, for Cesare at the time 
was at the Vatican. 

There we must leave the mystery of the murder 
of the Duke of Gandia ; but we leave it convinced 
that, such scant evidence as there is, points to an 
affair of sordid gallantry, and nowise implicates his 
brother Cesare. 




At the Consistory of June 19, 1497 the Sacred College 
beheld a broken-hearted old man who declared that 
he had done with the world, and that henceforth life 
could offer him nothing that should endear it to him. 

" A greater sorrow than this could not be ours, for 
we loved him exceedingly, and now we can hold neither 
the Papacy nor any other thing as of concern. Had 
we seven Papacies, we would give them all to restore 
the duke to life." So ran his bitter lament. 

He denounced his course of life as not having been 
all that it should have been, and appeared to see in 
the murder of his son a punishment for the evil of 
his ways. Much has been made of this, and quite 
unnecessarily. It has been taken eagerly as an admis- 
sion of his unparalleled guilt. An admission of guilt 
it undoubtedly was ; but what man is not guilty ? 
and how many men — ay, and saints even — in the hour 
of tribulation have cried out that they were being 
made to feel the wrath of God for the sins that no 
man is without ? 

If humanity contains a type that would not have seen 
in such a cause for sorrow a visitation of God, it is 
the type of inhuman monster to which we are asked 
to believe that Alexander VI belonged. A sinner 
unquestionably he was, and a great one ; but a human 
sinner, and not an incarnate devil, else there could 
have been no such outcry from hiih in such an hour 
as this. 

He announced that henceforth the spiritual needs 



of the Church should be his only care. He inveighed 
against the corruption of the ecclesiastical estate, 
confessing himself aware of how far it had strayed from 
the ancient discipline and from the laws that had 
been framed to bridle licence and cupidity, which were 
now rampant and unchecked ; and he proclaimed his 
intention to reform the Curia and the Church of 
Rome. To this end he appointed a commission con- 
sisting of the Cardinal-Bishops Oliviero Caraffa and 
Giorgio Costa, the Cardinal-Priests Antonietto Palla- 
vicino and Gianantonio Sangiorgio, and the Cardinal- 
Deacons Francesco Piccolomini and Raffaele Riario. 

There was even a suggestion that he was proposing 
to abdicate, but that he was prevailed upon to do 
nothing until his grief should have abated and his 
judgement be restored to its habitual calm. This sug- 
gestion, however, rests upon no sound authority. 

Letters of condolence reached him on every hand. 
Even his arch-enemy. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, 
put aside his rancour in the face of the Pope's over- 
whelming grief — and also because it happened to con- 
sort with his own interests, as will presently transpire. 
He wrote to Alexander from France that he was truly 
pained to the very soul of him in his concern for the 
Pope's Holiness — a letter which, no doubt, laid the 
foundations to the reconciliation that was toward 
between them. -""""'X 

Still more remarkable was it that the^thaumafturgicaj^ ^ 
Savonarola should have paused in the atrabilious^ .^ 
invective with which he was inflaming Florence against 
the Pope, should have paused to send him a letter of 
condolence in which he prayed that the Lord of all 
mercy might comfort his Hohness in his tribulation. 

That letter is a singular document ; singularly 
human, yielding a singular degree of insight into the 
nature of the man who penned it. A whole chapter 
of intelligent speculation upon the character of Savon- 
arola, based upon a study of externals, could not reveal 


as much of the mentality of that fanatical demagogue 
as the consideration of just this letter. 

The sympathy by which we cannot doubt it to have 
been primarily inspired is here overspread by the man's 
rampant fanaticism, there diluted by the prophecies 
from which he cannot even now refrain ; and, through- 
out, the manner is that of the pulpit- thumping 
orator. The first half of his letter is a prelude in the 
form of a sermon upon Faith, all very trite and obvious; 
and the notion of this excommunicated friar holding 
forth to the Pope's Holiness in polemical platitudes 
delivered with all the authority of inspired discoveries 
of his own is one more proof that at the root of fanati- 
cism in all ages and upon all questions, lies an utter 
lack of a sense of fitness and proportion. Having said 
that " the just man liveth in the Lord by faith," 
and that " the Lord in His mercy passeth over all our 
sins," he proclaims that he announces things of which 
he is assured, and for which he is ready to suffer all 
persecutions, and begs his Holiness to turn a favourable 
eye upon the work of faith in which he is labouring, 
and to give heed no more to the impious, promising the 
Holy Father that thus shall the Lord bestow upon him 
the essence of joy instead of the spirit of grief. Having 
begun, as we have seen, with an assurance that " the 
Lord in His mercy passeth over all our sins," he con- 
cludes by prophesying, with questionable logic, that 
" the thunders of His wrath will ere long be heard." 
Nor does he omit to mention — with an apparent 
arrogance that again betrays that same want of a 
sense of proportion — that all his predictions are true. 

His letter, however, and that of Cardinal della 
Rovere, among so many others, show us how touched 
was the world by the Pope's loss and overwhelming 
grief, how shocked at the manner in which this had 
been brought about. 

The commission which Alexander had appointed 
for the work of reform had meanwhile got to work, 


and the Cardinal of Naples edited the articles of 
a constitution which was undoubtedly the object of 
prolonged study and consideration, as is revealed by 
the numerous erasures and emendations which it 
bears. Unfortunately — for reasons which are not 
apparent — it was never published by Alexander. 
Possibly by the time that it was concluded the 
aggrandizement of the temporal power was claiming 
his entire attention to the neglect of the spiritual 
needs of the Holy See. It is also possible — as has 
been abundantly suggested — that the stern mood of 
penitence had softened with his sorrow, and was now 

Nevertheless, it may have been some lingering 
remnant of this fervour of reform that dictated the 
severe punishment which fell that year upon the 
flagitious Bishop of Cosenza. A fine trade was being 
driven in Rome by the sale of forged briefs of indul- 
gence. Raynaldus cites a Bull on that score addressed 
by Alexander, in the first year of his pontificate, to 
the bishops of Spain, enjoining them to visit with 
punishment all who in that kingdom should be dis- 
covered to be pursuing such a traffic. On September 4, 
1497, Burchard tells us, three servants of the Ponti- 
fical Secretary, the Archbishop of Cosenza (Bartolomeo 
Florido) were arrested in consequence of the discovery 
of twenty forged briefs issued by them. In their 
examination they incriminated their master the arch- 
bishop, who was consequently put upon his trial and 
found guilty. Alexander deposed, degraded, and im- 
prisoned him in Sant' Angelo in a dark room, where 
he was supplied with oil for his lamp and bread and 
water for his nourishment until he died. His under- 
lings were burnt in the Campo di Fiori in the following 

The Duke of Gandia left a widow and two children 
— Giovanni, a boy of three years of age, and Isabella, 


a girl of two. In the interests of her son, the widowed 
duchess applied to the Governor of Valencia in the 
following September for the boy's investiture in the 
rights of his deceased father. This was readily granted 
upon authority from Rome, and so the boy Giovanni 
was recognized as third Duke of Gandia, Prince of 
Sessa and Teano, and Lord of Cerignola and Monte- 
foscolo, and the administration of his estates during 
his minority was entrusted to his uncle, Cesare Borgia. 

The Lordship of Benevento — the last grant made 
to Giovanni Borgia — was not mentioned ; nor was it 
then nor ever subsequently claimed by the widow. 
It is the one possession of Gandia's that went to Cesare, 
who was confirmed in it by the King of Naples. 

The Gandia branch of the Borgia family remained 
in Spain, prospered and grew in importance, and, 
incidentally, produced St. Francis de Borgia. This 
Duke of Gandia was Master of the Household to 
Charles V, and thus a man of great worldly conse- 
quence ; but it happened that he was so moved 
by the sight of the disfigured body of his master's 
beautiful queen that he renounced the world and 
entered the Society of Jesus, eventually becoming its 
General. He died in 1562, and in the fulness of time 
was canonized. 

Cesare's departure for Naples as legate a latere to 
anoint and crown Federigo of Aragon was naturally 
delayed by the tragedy that had assailed his house, 
and not until July 22 did he take his leave of the Pope 
and set out with an escort of two hundred horse. 

Naples was still in a state of ferment, split into two 
parties, one of which favoured France and the other 
Aragon, so that disturbances were continual. Alex- 
ander expressed the hope that Cesare might appear 
in that distracted kingdom in the guise of an "angel 
of peace," and that by his coronation of King Federigo 
he should set a term to the strife that was toward. 


The city of Naples itself was now being ravaged 
by fever, and in consequence of this it was determined 
that Cesare should repair instead to Capua, where 
Federigo would await him. Arrived there, however, 
Cesare fell ill, and the coronation ceremony again 
suffered a postponement until August 10. Cesare 
remained a fortnight in the kingdom, and on August 22 
set out to return to Rome, and his departure appears 
to have been a matter of relief to Federigo, for so 
impoverished did the King of Naples find himself that 
the entertainment of the legate and his numerous 
escort had proved a heavy tax upon his flabby purse. 

On the morning of September 6 all the cardinals 
in Rome received a summons to attend at the Monas- 
tery of Santa Maria Nuova to welcome the returned 
Cardinal of Valencia. In addition to the Sacred College 
all the ambassadors of the Powers were present, and, 
after the celebration of the Mass, the entire assembly 
proceeded to the Vatican, where the Pope was waiting 
to receive his son. When the young cardinal pre- 
sented himself at the foot of the papal throne Alex- 
ander opened his arms to him, embraced, and kissed 
him, speaking no word. 

This rests upon the evidence of two eye-witnesses,' 
and the circumstance has been urged and propounded 
into the one conclusive piece of evidence that Cesare 
had murdered his brother, and that the Pope knew it. 
In this you have some more of what Gregorovius terms 
" inexorable logic." He kissed him, but he spake 
no word to him ; therefore, they reason, Cesare 
murdered Gandia. Can absurdity be more absurd, 
fatuity more fatuous ? Lucus a non lucendo I To 
square the circle should surely present no difficulty 
to these subtle logicians. 

It was, as we have seen, in February of 1498 that 

^ " Non dixit verbum Pape Valentinus, nee Papa sibi, sed eo deos- 
culato, descendit de solio " (Burchard's Diarium, and " Solo lo 
bacio," in letter from Rome in S^nuto's Diarii). 


it was first rumoured that Cesare intended to put off 
the purple ; and that the rumour had ample founda- 
tion was plain from the circumstance that the Pope 
was already laying plans whose fulfilment must be 
dependent upon that step, and seeking to arrange 
a marriage for Cesare with Carlotta of Aragon, King 
Federigo of Naples's daughter, stipulating that her 
dowry should be such that Cesare, in taking her to wife, 
should become Prince of Altamura and Tarentum. 

But Federigo showed himself unwilling, possibly 
in consideration of the heavy dowry demanded and 
of the heavy draft already made by the Borgias — 
through Giuffredo Borgia, Prince of Squillace — upon 
this Naples which the French invasion had so impover- 
ished. He gave out that he would not have his 
daughter wedded to a priest who was the son of a priest 
and that he would not give his daughter unless the 
Pope could contrive that a cardinal might marry and 
yet retain his hat. 

It all sounded as if he were actuated by nice 
scruples and high principles ; but the opinion is 
unfortunately not encouraged when we find him, 
nevertheless, giving his consent to the marriage of 
his nephew Alfonso to Lucrezia Borgia upon the 
pronouncement of her divorce from Giovanni Sforza. 
The marriage, let us say in passing, was celebrated 
at the Vatican on June 20, 1498, Lucrezia receiving 
a dowry of 40,000 ducats. But the astute Alexander 
saw to it that his family should acquire more than it 
gave, and contrived that Alfonso should receive 
the Neapolitan cities of Biselli and Quadrata, being 
raised to the title of Prince of Biselli. 

Nevertheless, there was a vast difference between 
giving in marriage a daughter who must take a weighty 
dowry out of the kingdom and receiving a daughter 
who would bring a handsome dowry with her. And 
the facts suggest that such was the full measure of 
Federigo's scruples, 


Vy Meanwhile, to dissemble his reluctance to let 
Cesare have his daughter to wife, Federigo urged that 
he must first take the feeling of Ferdinand and Isabella 
in this matter. 

While affairs stood thus, Charles VIII died suddenly 
at Amboise in April of that year 1498. Some work 
was being carried out there by artists whom he had 
brought from Naples for the purpose, and, in going 
to visit this, the king happened to enter a dark gallery, 
and struck his forehead so violently against the edge 
of a door that he expired the same day — at the age 
of twenty-eight. He was a poor, malformed fellow, 
as we have seen, and " of little understanding," Com- 
mines tells us ; " but so good that it would have been 
impossible to have found a kinder creature." 

With him the Valois dynasty came to an end. He 
was succeeded by his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, 
who, upon his coronation at Rheims, assumed the 
title of King of France and the Two Sicilies and 
Duke of Milan — a matter which considerably per- 
turbed Federigo of Aragon and Lodovico Sforza. 
Each of these rulers saw in that assumption of his 
own title by Louis XII a declaration of enmity, the 
prelude to a declaration of open war ; wherefore, 
deeming it idle to send their ambassadors to represent 
them at the Court of France, they refrained from 
doing so. 

Louis XII's claim upon the Duchy of Milan was 
based upon his being the grandson of Valentina 
Visconti, and, considering himself a Visconti, he 
naturally looked upon the Sforza dominion as no 
better than a usurpation which too long had been 
left undisturbed. To disturb it now was the first 
aim of his kingship. And to this end, as well as in 
another matter, the friendship of the Pope was very 
desirable to Louis. 

The other matter concerned his matrimonial affairs. 
No sooner did he find himself King of France than 


he applied to Rome for the dissolution of his marriage 
with Jeanne de Valois, the daughter of Louis XL 
The grounds he urged were threefold : Firstly, 
between himself and Jeanne there existed a relation- 
ship of the fourth degree and a spiritual affinity, 
resulting from the fact that her father, Louis XI, had 
held him at the baptismal font — which before the 
Council of Trent did constitute an impediment to 
marriage. Secondly, he had not been a willing party 
to the union, but had entered into it as a consequence 
of intimidation from the terrible Louis XI, who had 
threatened his life and possessions if not obeyed in 
this. Thirdly, Jeanne laboured under physical diffi- 
culties which rendered her incapable of maternity. 

Of such a nature was the appeal he made to Alex- 
ander, and Alexander responded by appointing a 
commission presided over by the Cardinal of Luxem- 
bourg, and composed of that same cardinal and the 
Bishops of Albi and Ceuta, assisted by five other bishops 
as assessors, to investigate the king's grievance. 
There appears to be no good reason for assuming that 
the inquiry was not conducted fairly and honourably 
or that the finding of the bishops and ultimate annul- 
ment of the marriage was not in accordance with 
their consciences. We are encouraged to assume 
that all this was indeed so, when we consider that 
Jeanne de Valois submitted without protest to the 
divorce, and that neither then nor subsequently at 
any time did she prefer any complaint, accepting 
the judgement, it is presumable, as a just and fitting 

She applied to the Pope for permission to found 
a religious order, whose special aim should be the 
adoration and the emulation of the perfections of the 
Blessed Virgin, a permission which Alexander very 
readily accorded her. He was, himself, imbued with 
a very special devotion for the Mother of the Saviour. 
We see the spur of this special devotion of his in the 


votive offering of a silver effigy to her famous altar 
of the Santissima Nunziata in Florence, which he 
had promised in the event of Rome being freed from 
Charles VIII. Again, after the accident of the 
collapse of a roof in the Vatican, in which he narrowly 
escaped death, it is to Santa Maria Nuova that we 
see him going in procession to hold a solemn thanks- 
giving service to Our Lady. In a dozen different 
ways did that devotion find expression during his 
pontificate ; and be it remembered that Catholics owe 
it to Alexander VI that the Angelus-bell is rung thrice 
daily in honour of the Blessed Virgin. 

To us this devotion to the Mother of Chastity 
on the part of a churchman openly unchaste in 
flagrant subversion of his vows is a strange and in- 
congruous spectacle. But the incongruity of it is 
illumining. It reveals Alexander's simple attitude 
towards the sins of the flesh, and shows how, in common 
with most churchmen of his day, he found no con- 
scientious difficulty in combining fervid devotion 
with perfervid licence. Whatever it may seem by 
ours, by his lights — by the light of the examples about 
him from his youth, by the light of the precedents 
afforded him by his predecessors in St. Peter's Chair 
— his conduct was a normal enough affair, which 
can have afforded him little with which to reproach 

In the matter of the annulment of the marriage 
of Louis XII it is to be conceded that Alexander 
made the most of the opportunity it afforded him. 
He perceived that the moment was propitious for 
enlisting the services of the King of France to the 
achievement of his own ends, more particularly to 
further the matter of the marriage of Cesare Borgia 
with Carlotta of Aragon, who was being reared at 
the Court of France. Accordingly Alexander desired 
the Bishop of Ceuta to lay his wishes in the matter 
before the Christian King, and, to the end that Cesare 


might find a fitting secular estate awaiting him when 
eventually he emerged from the clergy, the Pope 
further suggested to Louis, through the bishop's 
agency, that Cesare should receive the investiture 
of the counties of Valentinois and Dyois in Dauphiny. 

On the face of it this wears the look of inviting 
bribery. In reality it scarcely amounted to so much, 
although the opportunism that prompted the request 
is undeniable. Yet it is worthy of consideration that 
in what concerned the counties of Valentinois and 
Dyois, the Pope's suggestion constituted a wise 
political step. These territories had been in dispute 
between France and the Holy See for a matter of 
some two hundred years, during which the Popes 
had been claiming dominion over them. The claims 
had been admitted by Louis XI, who had relin- 
quished the counties to the Church ; but shortly 
after his death the Parliament of Dauphiny had re- 
stored them to the crown of France. Charles VIII 
and Innocent VIII had wrangled over them, and an 
arbitration was finally projected, but never held. 

Alexander now perceived a way to solve the diffi- 
culty by a compromise which should enrich his son 
and give the latter a title to replace that of cardinal 
which he was to relinquish. So his proposal to Louis 
XII was that the Church should abandon its claim upon 
the territories, whilst the king, raising Valentinois 
to the dignity of a duchy, should so confer it upon 
Cesare Borgia. 

Although the proposal was politically sound, it 
constituted at the same time an act of flagrant nepo- 
tism. But let us bear in mind that Alexander did 
not lack a precedent for this particular act. When 
Louis XI had surrendered Valentinois to Sixtus IV, 
this Pope had bestowed it upon his nephew Girolamo, 
thereby vitiating any claim that the Holy See might 
subsequently have upon the territory. We judge it 
— under the circumstajnces that Louis XI had sur- 


rendered it to the Church — to be a far more flagrant 
piece of nepotism than was Alexander's now. 

Louis XII, nothing behind the Pope in opportunism, 
saw in the concession asked of him the chance of 
acquiring Alexander's good-will. He consented, ac- 
companying his consent by a request for a cardinal's 
hat for Georges d'Amboise, Bishop of Rouen, who had 
been his devoted friend in less prosperous times, and 
the sharer of his misfortunes under the previous reign, 
and was now his chief counsellor and minister. In 
addition he besought — dependent, of course, upon the 
granting of the solicited divorce — a dispensation to 
marry Anne of Brittany, the beautiful widow of 
Charles VIII. This was Louis's way of raising the 
price, as it were, of the concession and services asked 
of him ; yet, that there might be no semblance of 
bargaining, his consent to Cesare's being created Duke 
of Valentinois was simultaneous with his request for 
further favours. 

With the Royal Patents conferring that duchy upon 
the Pope's son, Louis de Villeneuve reached Rome 
on August 7, 1498. On the same day the young 
cardinal came before the Sacred College, assembled 
in Consistory, to crave permission to doff the purple. 

After the act of adoration of the Pope's Holiness, 
he humbly submitted to his brother cardinals that 
his inclinations had ever been in opposition to his 
embracing the ecclesiastical dignity, and that, if he 
had entered upon it at all, this had been solely at 
the instances of his Holiness, just as he had persevered 
in it to gratify him ; but that, his inclinations and 
desires for the secular estate persisting, he implored 
the Holy Father, of his clemency, to permit him to 
put off his habit and ecclesiastical rank, to restore 
his hat and benefices to the Church, and to grant him 
dispensation to return to the world and be free to 
contract marriage. And he prayed the very reverend 
cardinals to use their good offices on his behalf. 


adding to his own their intercessions to the Pope's 
Holiness to accord him the grace he sought. 

The cardinals relegated the decision of the matter 
to the Pope. Cardinal Ximenes alone — as the re- 
presentative of Spain — stood out against the granting 
of the solicited dispensation, and threw obstacles in 
the way of it. In this, no doubt, he obeyed his in- 
structions from Ferdinand and Isabella, who saw to 
the bottom of the intrigue with France that was 
toward, and of the alliance that impended between 
Louis XII and the Holy See — an alliance not at all 
to the interests of Spain. 

The Pope made a speedy rout of the cardinal's ob- 
jections with the most apostolic and irresistible of 
all weapons. He pointed out that it was not for him 
to hinder the Cardinal of Valencia's renunciation 
of the purple, since that renunciation was clearly 
become necessary for the salvation of his soul — " Pro 
salutae animae suae " — to which, of course, Ximenes 
had no answer. 

But, with the object of conciliating Spain, this ever- 
politic Pope indicated that, if Cesare was about to 
become a prince of France, his many ecclesiastical 
benefices, yielding some 35,000 gold florins yearly, 
being mostly in Spain, would be bestowed upon 
Spanish churchmen, and he further begged Ximenes 
to remember that he already had a " nephew " at 
the Court of Spain in the person of the heir of Gandia, 
whom he particularly commended to the favour of 
Ferdinand and Isabella. 

Thus was Cesare Borgia's petition granted, and his 
return to the world accomplished. And, by a strange 
chance of homonymy, his title remained unchanged 
despite his change of estate. The Cardinal of Valencia, 
in Spain, became the Duke of Valence — or Valen- 
tinois- — in France and in Italy Valentino remained 


" Cum numine Caesaris omen." 

(Motto on Cesare Borgia's sword.) 


(In the Pinacoteca Comunale, Forli.) 

Alinari fihoto. 




King Louis XII dispatched the Sieur de Sarenon by 
sea, with a fleet of three ships and five galleys, to the 
end that he should conduct the new duke to France, 
which fleet was delayed so that it did not drop its 
anchors at Ostia until the end of September. 

Meanwhile, Cesare's preparations for departure 
had been going forward, and were the occasion of a 
colossal expenditure on the part of his sire. For the 
Pope desired that his son, in going to France to assume 
his estate, and for the further purposes of marrying 
a wife, of conveying to Louis the dispensation per- 
mitting his marriage with Anne of Brittany, and of 
bearing the red hat to Amboise, should display the 
extraordinary magnificence for which the princes 
of cultured and luxurious Italy were at the time 

His suite consisted of fully a hundred attendants, 
what with esquires, pages, lacqueys and grooms, 
whilst twelve chariots and fifty sumpter-mules were 
laden with his baggage. The horses of his followers 
were all sumptuously caparisoned with bridles and 
stirrups of solid silver ; and, for the rest, the splendour 
of the liveries, the weapons and the jewels, and the 
richness of the gifts he bore with him were the amaze- 
ment even of that age of dazzling displays. 

In Cesare's train went Ramiro de Lorqua, the Master 
of his Household ; Agabito Gherardi, his secretary ; 
and his Spanish physician, Gaspare Torella — the only 

II ^79 


medical man of his age who had succeeded in dis- 
covering a treatment for the fudendagra which the 
French had left in Italy, and who had dedicated to 
Cesare his learned treatise upon that disease. 

As a body-guard, or escort of honour, Cesare took 
with him thirty gentlemen, mostly Romans, among 
whom were Giangiordano Orsini, Pietro Santa Croce, 
Mario di Mariano, Domenico Sanguigna, Giulio 
Alberini, Bartolomeo Capranica, and Gianbattista 
Mancini — all young, and all members of those patrician 
families which Alexander VI had skilfully attached 
to his own interest. 

The latest of these was the Orsini family, with which 
an alliance was established by the marriage celebrated 
at the Vatican on September 28 of that same year 
between Fabio Orsini and Girolama Borgia, a niece 
of the Pope's. 

Cesare's departure took place on October i, in the 
early morning, when he rode out with his princely 
retinue, and followed the Tiber along Trastevere, 
without crossing the city. He was mounted on a 
handsome charger, caparisoned in red silk and gold 
brocade — the colours of France, in which he had also 
dressed his lacqueys. He wore a doublet of white 
damask laced with gold, and carried a mantle of black 
velvet swinging from his shoulders. Of black velvet, 
too, was the cap on his auburn head, its sable colour 
an effective background for the ruddy effulgence of 
the great rubies — " as large as beans " — with which 
it was adorned. 

Of the gentlemen who followed him, the Romans 
were dressed in the French mode, like himself, whilst 
the Spaniards adhered to the fashions of their native 

He was escorted as far as the end of the Banchi 
by four cardinals, and from a window of the Vatican 
the Pope watched the imposing cavalcade and followed 
it with his eyes until it was lost to view, weeping. 


we are told, for very joy at the contemplation of the 
splendour and magnificence which it had been his 
to bestow upon his beloved son — " the very heart of 
him," as he wrote to the King of France in that letter 
of which Cesare was the bearer. 

On October 12 the Duke of Valentinois landed at 
Marseilles, where he was received by the Bishop of 
Dijon, whom the king had sent to meet him, and who 
now accompanied the illustrious visitor to Avignon. 
There Cesare was awaited by the Cardinal Giuliano 
della Rovere. This prelate was now anxious to make 
his peace with Alexander — and presently we shall look 
into the motives that probably inspired him, a matter 
which has so far, we fancy, escaped criticism for 
reasons that we shall also strive to make apparent. 
To the beginnings of a reconciliation with the Pontiff 
afforded by his touching letter of condolence on the 
death of the Duke of Gandia, he now added a very 
cordial reception and entertainment of Cesare; and 
throughout his sojourn in France the latter received 
at the hands of della Rovere the very friendliest 
treatment, the cardinal missing no opportunity of 
working in the duke's interests and for the advance-, 
ment of his ends. 

The Pope wrote to the cardinal commending Cesare 
to his good graces, and the cardinal replied with pro- 
testations which he certainly proceeded to make good. 

Della Rovere was to escort Cesare to the king, 
who was with his Court then at Chinon, awaiting the 
completion of the work that was being carried out 
at his Castle of Blois, which presently became his 
chief residence. But Cesare appears to have tarried 
in Avignon, for he was still there at the end of October, 
nor did he reach Chinon until the middle of December. 
The pomp of his entrance was a thing stupendous. 
We find a detailed relation of it in Brantome, trans- 
lated into prose from some old verses which, he tells 
us, that he found in the family treasury. He complains 


of their coarseness, and those who are acquainted with 
the delightful old Frenchman's own frankness of 
expression may well raise their brows at that criti- 
cism of his. Whatever the coarse liberties taken with 
the subject — of which we are not allowed more than 
an occasional glimpse — and despite the fact that the 
relation was in verse, which ordinarily makes for the 
indulgence of the rhymer's fancy — the description 
appears to be fairly accurate, for it corresponds more 
or less with the particulars given in Sanuto. 

At the head of the cavalcade went twenty-four 
sumpter-mules, laden with coffers and other baggage 
under draperies embroidered with Cesare's arms — 
prominent among which would be the red bull, the 
emblem of his house, and the three-pointed flame, his 
own particular device. Behind these came another 
twenty-four mules, caparisoned in the king's colours 
of scarlet and gold, to be followed in their turn by 
sixteen beautiful chargers led by hand, similarly 
caparisoned, and their bridles and stirrups of solid 
silver. Next came eighteen pages on horseback, 
sixteen of whom were in scarlet and yellow, whilst 
the remaining two were in cloth of gold. These were 
followed by a posse of lacqueys in the same liveries 
and two mules laden with coffers draped with cloth 
of gold, which contained the gifts of which Cesare 
was the bearer. Behind these rode the duke's thirty 
gentlemen, in cloth of gold and silver, and amongst 
them came the duke himself. 

Cesare was mounted on a superb war-horse that 
was all empanoplied in a cuirass of gold leaves of ex- 
quisite workmanship, its head surmounted by a golden 
artichoke, its tail confined in a net of gold abun- 
dantly studded with pearls. The duke was in black 
velvet, through the slashings of which appeared the 
gold brocade of the undergarment. Suspended from 
a chain said by Brantome's poet to be worth thirty 
thousand ducats, a medallion of diamonds blazed 


upon his breast, and in his black velvet cap glowed 
those same wonderful rubies that we saw on the 
occasion of his departure from Rome. His boots 
were of black velvet, laced with gold thread that was 
studded with gems. 

The rear of the cavalcade was brought up by more 
mules and the chariots bearing his plate and tents 
and all the other equipage with which a prince was 
wont to travel. 

It is said by some that his horse was shod with 
solid gold, and there is also a story — pretty, but pro- 
bably untrue — that some of his mules were shod in 
the same metal, and that, either because the shoes 
were loosely attached of intent, or because the metal, 
being soft, parted readily from the hoofs, these golden 
shoes were freely cast and left as largesse for those who 
might care to take them. 

The Bishop of Rouen — that same Georges d'Amboise 
for whom he was bringing the red hat — the Seneschal 
of Toulouse and several gentlemen of the Court 
went to meet him on the bridge, and escorted him 
up through the town to the castle, where the king 
awaited him. Louis XH gave him a warm and cordial 
welcome, showing him then and thereafter the friend- 
liest consideration. Not so, however, the lady he 
was come to woo. It was said in Venice that she was 
in love with a young Breton gentleman in the follow- 
ing of Queen Anne. Whether this was true, and 
Carlotta acted in the matter in obedience to her 
own feelings, or whether she was merely pursuing 
the instructions she had received from Naples, she 
obstinately and absolutely refused to entertain or 
admit the suit of Cesare. 

Delia Rovere, on January 18, wrote to the Pope 
from Nantes, whither the Court had moved, a letter 
in which he sang the praises of the young Duke of 

" By his modesty, his readiness, his prudence, and 


his other virtues he has known how to earn the affec- 
tions of every one." Unfortunately, there was one 
important exception, as the cardinal was forced to 
add : " The damsel, either out of her own contrari- 
ness, or because so induced by others, which is easier 
to believe, constantly refuses to hear of the wedding." 

Delia Rovere was quite justified in finding it easier 
to believe that Carlotta was acting upon instructions 
from others, for, when hard pressed to consent to the 
alliance, she demanded that the Neapolitan ambas- 
sador should himself say that her father desired her to 
do so — a statement which, it seems, the ambassador 
could not bring himself to make. 

BafHed by the persistence of that refusal, Cesare 
all but returned a bachelor to Italy. So far, indeed, 
was his departure a settled matter that in February 
of 1489, at the Castle of Loches, he received the king's 
messages for the Pope. Yet Louis hesitated to let 
him go without having bound his Holiness to his 
own interests by stronger bonds. 

In the task of tracing the annals of the Borgias, 
the honest seeker after truth is compelled to proceed 
axe in hand that he may hack himself a way through 
the tangle of irresponsible or malicious statements 
that have grown up about this subject, driving their 
roots deep into the soil of history. Not a single 
chance does malignity, free or chartered, appear to 
have missed for the invention of flagitious falsehoods 
concerning this family, or for the no less flagitious 
misinterpretation of known facts. 

Amid a mass of written nonsense dealing with 
Cesare's sojourn in France is the oft-repeated, totally 
unproven statement that he withheld from Louis 
the dispensation enabling the latter to marry Anne 
of Brittany, until such time as he should have obtained 
from Louis all that he desired of him — in short, 
that he sold him the dispensation for the highest 


price he could extract. The only motive served by 
this statement is once more to show Alexander and 
his son in the perpetration of simoniacal practices, 
and the statement springs, beyond doubt, from a pas- 
sage in Macchiavelli's Extracts from Dispatches to the 
Ten. Elsewhere has been mentioned the confusion 
prevailing in those extracts, and their unreliability 
as historical evidences. That circumstance can be 
now established. The passage in question runs as 
follows : 

" This dispensation was given to Valentinois when 
he went to France without any one being aware of 
its existence, with orders to sell it dearly to the king, 
and not until satisfied of the wife and his other desires. 
And, whilst these things were toward, the king learnt 
from the Bishop of Ceuta that the dispensation al- 
ready existed, and so, without having received or 
even seen it the marriage was celebrated, and for 
revealing this the Bishop of Ceuta was put to death 
by order of Valentinois." 

Now, to begin with, Macchiavelli admits that what 
passed between Pope and duke was secret. How, 
then, does he pretend to possess these details of it ? 
But, leaving that out of the question, his statement — 
so abundantly repeated by later writers — is traversed 
by every one of the actual facts of the case. 

That there can have been no secret at all about the 
dispensation is made plain by the fact that Manfredi, 
the Ferrarese ambassador, writes of it to Duke Ercole 
on October 2 — the day after Cesare's departure from 
Rome. And as for the death of Fernando d' Almeida, 
Bishop of Ceuta, this did not take place then, nor 
until two years later (on January 7, 1499) ^^ ^^ siege 
of Forli, whither he had gone in Cesare's train — as 
is related in Bernardi's Chronicles and Bonoli's 
history of that town. 

To return to the matter of Cesare's imminent 


departure unwed from France, Louis XII was not 
the only monarch to whom this was a source of anxiety. 
Keener far was the anxiety experienced on that score 
by the King of Naples, who feared that its immediate 
consequence would be to drive the Holy Father into 
alliance with Venice, which was paying its court to 
him at the time and with that end in view. Eager 
to conciliate Alexander in this hour of peril, Federigo 
approached him with alternative proposals, and offered 
to invest Cesare in the principalities of Salerno and 
Sanseverino, which had been taken from the rebel 
barons. To this the Pope might have consented, 
but that, in the moment of considering it, letters 
reached him from Cesare which made him pause. 

Louis XII had also discovered an alternative to 
the marriage of Cesare with Carlotta, and one that 
should more surely draw the Pope into the alliance 
with Venice and himself. 

Among the ladies of the Court of Queen Anne — 
Louis had now been wedded a month — there were, 
besides Carlotta, two other ladies either of whom 
might make Cesare a suitable duchess. One of these 
was a niece of the king's, the daughter of the Comte 
de Foix ; the other was Charlotte d'Albret, a daughter 
of Alain d'Albret, Due de Guyenne, and sister to the 
King of Navarre. Between these two Cesare was 
now given to choose by Louis, and his choice fell 
upon Charlotte. 

She was seventeen years of age and said to be the 
most beautiful maid in France, and she had been 
reared at the honourable and pious Court of Jeanne 
de Valois, whence she had passed into that of Anne 
of Brittany, which latter, says Hilarion de Coste,^ 
was "a school of virtue, an academy of honour." 

Negotiations for her hand were opened with Alain, 
who, it is said, was at first unwilling, but in the end 
won over to consent. Navarre had need of the friend- 
1 Stages et vies des Reynes^ Princesses ^ etc. 


ship of the King of France, that it might withstand 
the predatory humours of Castille ; and so, for his son's 
sake, Alain could not long oppose the wishes of Louis. 
Considering closely the pecuniary difficulties under 
which this Alain d'Albret was labouring and his 
notorious avarice, one is tempted to conclude that 
such difficulties as he may have made were dictated 
by his reduced circumstances, his impossibility, or 
unwillingness, to supply his daughter with a dowry 
fitting her rank, and an unworthy desire to drive 
in the matter the best bargain possible. And this 
is abundantly confirmed by the obvious care and 
hard-headed cunning with which the Sieur d'Albret 
investigated Cesare's circumstances and sources of 
revenue to verify their values to be what was alleged. 

Eventually he consented to endow her with 30,000 
livres Tournois (90,000 francs) to be paid as follows : 
6,000 livres on the celebration of the marriage, and 
the balance by annual instalments of 1,500 livres 
until cleared off. This sum, as a matter of fact, 
represented her portion of the inheritance from her 
deceased mother, Fran9oise de Bretagne, and it was 
tendered subject to her renouncing all rights and 
succession in any property of her father's or her said 
deceased mother's. 

Thus is it set forth in the contract drawn up by 
Alain at Castel-Jaloux on March 23, 1499, which 
contract empowers his son Gabriel and one Regnault 
de St. Chamans to treat and conclude the marriage 
urged by the king between the Duke of Valentinois 
and Alain's daughter, Charlotte d'Albret. But that 
was by no means all. Among other conditions im- 
posed by Alain, he stipulated that the Pope should 
endow his daughter with 100,000 livres Tournois, 
and that for his son, Amanieu d'Albret, there should 
be a cardinal's hat — for the fulfilment of both of 
which conditions Cesare took it upon himself to engage 
his father. 


On April 15 the treaty between France and Venice 
was signed at Blois. It was a defensive and offensive 
alliance directed against all, with the sole exception 
of the reigning Pontiff, who should have the faculty to 
enter into it if he so elected. This was the first decisive 
step against the House of Sforza, and so secretly were 
the negotiations conducted that Lodovico Sforza's 
first intimation of them resulted from the capture in 
Milanese territory of a courier from the Pope with 
letters to Cesare in France. From these he learnt, to 
his dismay, not only of the existence of the league, 
but that the Pope had joined it. The immediate 
consequence of this positive assurance that Alexander 
had gone over to Sforza's enemies was Ascanio 
Sforza's hurried departure from Rome on July 13. 

In the meantime Cesare's marriage had followed 
almost immediately upon the conclusion of the treaty. 
The nuptials were celebrated on May 12, and on the 
19th he received at the hands of the King of France 
the knightly Order of St. Michael, which was then the 
highest honour that France could confer. When the 
news of this reached the Pope he celebrated the event 
in Rome with public festivities and illuminations. 

Of Cesare's courtship we have no information. 
The fact that the marriage was purely one of political 
expediency would tend to make us conceive it as 
invested with that sordid lovelessness which must 
so often attend the marriages of princes. But there 
exists a little data from which we may draw certain 
permissible inferences. This damsel of seventeen was 
said to be the loveliest in France, and there is more 
than a suggestion in Le Feron's De Gestis Regnum 
Gallorum, that Cesare was by no means indifferent 
to her charms. He tells us that the Duke of Valen- 
tinois entered into the marriage very heartily, not 
only for the sake of its expediency, but for " the 
beauty of the lady, which was equalled by her virtues 
and the sweetness of her nature." 


Cesare, we have it on more than one authority, 
was the handsomest man of his day. The gallantry 
of his bearing merited the approval of so fastidious 
a critic in such matters as Baldassare Castiglione, 
who mentions it in his // Cortigtano. Of his personal 
charm there is also no lack of commendation from 
those who had his acquaintance at this time. Added 
to this, his Italian splendour and flamboyance may 
well have dazzled a maid who had been reared amid 
the grey and something stern tones of the Court of 
Jeanne de Valois. 

And so it may well be that they loved, and that 
they were blessed in their love for the little space 
allotted them in each other's company. The sequel 
justifies in a measure the assumption. Just one little 
summer out of the span of their lives — brief though 
those lives were — did they spend together, and it is 
good to find some little evidence that, during that 
brief season at least, they inhabited life's rose-garden. 

In September — just four short months after the 
wedding-bells had pealed above them — the trumpets 
of war blared out their call to arms. Louis's pre- 
parations for the invasion of Milan were complete, 
and he poured his troops through Piedmont under 
the command of Giangiacomo Trivulzio. 

Cesare was to accompany Louis into Italy. He 
appointed his seventeen-year-old duchess governor 
and administrator of his lands and lordships in France 
and Dauphiny under a deed dated September 8, and 
he made her heiress to all his moveable possessions 
in the event of his death. Surely this bears some 
witness, not only to the prevailing of a good under- 
standing between them, but to his esteem of her and 
the confidence he reposed in her mental qualities. 
The rest her later mourning of him shows. 

Thus did Cesare take leave of the young wife whom 
he was never to see again. Their child — born in the 
following spring — he was never to see at all. The 


pity of it ! Ambition-driven, to fulfil the destiny 
expected of him, he turned his back upon that pleasant 
land of Dauphiny where the one calm little season 
of his manhood had been spent, where happiness 
and peace might have been his lifelong portion had 
he remained. He set his face towards Italy and the 
storm and stress before him, and in the train of 
King Louis he set out upon the turbulent meteoric 
course that was to sear so deep and indelible a brand 
across the scroll of history. 



In the hour of his need Lodovico Sforza found himself 
without friends or credit, and he had to pay the price 
of the sly, faithless egotistical policy he had so long 
pursued with profit. 

His far-reaching schemes were flung into confusion 
because a French king had knocked his brow against 
a door, and had been succeeded by one who conceived 
that he had a legal right to the throne of Milan, 
and the intent and might to enforce it, be the right 
legal or not. It was in vain now that Lodovico 
turned to the powers of Italy for assistance, in vain 
that his cunning set fresh intrigues afoot. His neigh- 
bours had found him out long since ; he had played 
fast and loose with them too often, and there was 
none would trust him now. 

Thus he found himself isolated, and in no case to 
withstand the French avalanche which rolled down 
upon his duchy. The fall of Milan was a matter of 
days ; of resistance there was practically none. Town 
after town threw up its gates to the invaders, and 
Lodovico, seeing himself abandoned on all sides, 
sought in flight the safety of his own person. 

Cesare took no part in the war, which, after all, 
was no war — no more than an armed progress. He 
was at Lyons with the King, and he did not move 
into Italy until Louis went to take possession of his 
new duchy. 

Amid the acclamations of the ever-fickle mob, 



hailing him as its deliverer, Louis XII rode trium- 
phantly into Milan on October 6, attended by a little 
host of princes, including the Prince of Savoy, the 
Dukes of Montferrat and Ferrara, and the Marquis 
of Mantua. But the place of honour went to Cesare 
Borgia, who rode at the king's side, a brilliant and 
arresting figure. This was the occasion on which 
Baldassare Castiglione — who was in the Marquis 
of Mantua's suite — was moved to such praise of the 
appearance and gallant bearing of the duke, and of 
the splendid equipment 6i his suite, which outshone 
those of all that little host of attendant princes. 

From this time onward Cesare signs himself 
" Cesare Borgia of France," and quarters on his shield 
the golden lilies of France with the red bull of the 
House of Borgia. 

The conditions on which Alexander VI joined the 
league of France and Venice became apparent at 
about this time. They were to be gathered from the 
embassy of his nephew, the Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, 
to Venice in the middle of September. There the 
latter announced to the Council of Ten that the Pope's 
Holiness aimed at the recovery to the Church of 
those Romagna tyrannies which originally were fiefs 
of the Holy See and held by her vicars, who, however, 
had long since repudiated the Pontifical authority, 
refused the payment of their tributes, and in some 
instances had even gone so far as to bear arms against 
the Church. 

With one or two exceptions the violent and evil 
misgovernment of these turbulent princelings was 
a scandal to all Italy. They ruled by rapine and 
murder, and rendered Romagna little better than a 
nest of brigands. Their state of secession from the 
Holy See arose largely out of the nepotism practised 
by the last Popes — a nepotism writers are too prone 
to overlook when charging Alexander with the same 


abuse. Such Popes as Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII 
had broken up the States of the Church that they 
might endow their children and their nephews. The 
nepotism of such as these never had any result but 
to impoverish the Holy See ; whilst, on the other 
hand, the nepotism of Alexander — this Pope who is 
held up to obloquy as the archetype of the nepotist — had 
a tendency rather to enrich it. It was not to the States 
of the Church, not by easy ways of plundering the 
territories of the Holy See, that he turned to found 
dominions and dynasties for his children. He went 
beyond and outside of them, employing princely 
alliances as the means to his ends. Gandia was a duke 
in Spain ; Giuffredo a prince in Naples, and Cesare 
a duke in France. For none of these could it be said 
that territories had been filched from Rome, whilst 
the alliances made for them were such as tended to 
strengthen the power of the Pope, and, therefore, of 
the Church. 

The reconsolidation of the States of the Church, 
the recovery of her full temporal power, which his 
predecessors had so grievously dissipated, had ever 
been Alexander's aim ; Louis XII aiforded him, at 
last, his opportunity, since with French aid the thing 
now might be attempted. 

His son Cesare was the Hercules to whom was to 
be given the labour of cleaning out the Augean stable 
of the Ro magna. 

That Alexander may have been single-minded in 
his purpose has never been supposed. It might, 
indeed, be to suppose too much ; and the general 
assumption that, from the outset, his chief aim was 
to found a powerful State for his son may be accepted. 
But let us at least remember that such had been the 
aims of several Popes before him. Sixtus IV and 
Innocent VIII had similarly aimed at founding dy- 
nasties in Romagna for their families ; but, lacking 
the talents and political acuteness of Alexander, 


and a son of the mettle and capacity of Cesare Borgia, 
the feeble trail of their ambition is apt to escape 
attention. It is also to be remembered that, whatever 
Alexander's ulterior motive, the immediate results 
of the campaign with which he inspired his son 
were to reunite to the Church the States which had 
fallen away from her, and to re-establish her temporal 
sway in the full plenitude of its dominion. However 
much he may have been imbued with the desire to 
exalt and aggrandize his children politically, he did 
nothing that did not at the same time make for the 
greater power and glory of the Church. 

His formidable Bull published in October set forth 
how, after trial, it had been found that the Lords 
or Vicars of Rimini, Pesaro, Imola, Forli, Camerino 
and Faenza, with other feudatories of the Holy See 
(including the duchy of Urbino) had never paid the 
yearly tribute due to the Church, wherefore he, 
by virtue of his apostolic authority, deprived them of 
all their rights, and did declare them so deprived. 

It has been said again and again that this Bull 
amounting to a declaration of war, was no more than 
a pretext to indulge his rapacity ; but surely it 
bears the impress of a real grievance, and, however 
blameable the results that followed out of it, for the 
measure itself there were just and ample grounds. 

The effect of that Bull, issued at a moment when 
Cesare stood at arms with the might of France at 
his back, ready to enforce it, was naturally to throw 
into a state of wild dismay these Romagna tyrants 
whose acquaintance we shall make at closer quarters 
presently in the course of following Cesare's cam- 
paign. Cesare Borgia may have been something of a 
wolf ; but you are not to suppose that the Romagna 
was a fold of lambs. 

Giovanni Sforza — Cesare's sometime brother-in- 
law, and Lord of Pesaro — flies in hot haste to Venice 
for protection. There are no lengths to which he 


will not go to thwart the Borgias in their purpose, to 
save his tyranny from falling into the power of this 
family which he hates most rabidly, and of which he 
says that, having robbed him of his honour, it would 
now deprive him of his possessions. He even offers 
to make a gift of his dominions to the Republic. 

There was much traders' blood in Venice, and, 
trader-like, she was avid of possessions. You can sur- 
mise how she must have watered at the mouth to 
see so fine a morsel cast thus into her lap, and yet to 
know that the consumption of it might beget a woeful 
indigestion. Venice shook her head regretfully. She 
could not afford to quarrel with her ally. King Louis, 
and so she made answer — a thought contemptuously, 
it seems — that Giovanni should have made his offer 
while he was free to do so. 

The Florentines exerted themselves to save Forli 
from the fate that threatened it. They urged a 
league of Bologna, Ferrara, Forli, Piombino, and Siena 
for their common safety — a proposal which came to 
nothing, probably because Ferrara and Siena, not 
being threatened by the Bull, saw no reason why, 
for the sake of others, they should call down upon 
themselves the wrath of the Borgias and their mighty 

Venice desired to save Faenza, whose tyrant, 
Manfredi, was also attainted for non-payment of his 
tributes, and to this end the Republic sent an embassy 
to Rome with the moneys due. But the Holy Father 
refused the gold, declaring that it was too late for 

Forli's attempt to avert the danger was of a different 
sort, and not exerted until this danger — in the shape 
of Cesare himself — stood in arms beneath her walls. 
Two men, both named Tommaso — though it does 
not transpire that they were related — one a chamber- 
lain of the Palace of Forli, the other a musician, were 
so devoted to the Countess Sforza-Riario, the grim 



termagant who ruled the fiefs of her murdered husband, 
Girolamo Riario, as to have undertaken an enterprise 
from which they cannot have hoped to emerge with 
their lives. It imported no less than the murder 
of the Pope. They were arrested on November 21, 
and in the possession of one of them was found a 
hollow cane containing a letter " so impregnated 
with poison that even to unfold it would be dangerous." 
This letter was destined for the Holy Father. 

The story reads like a gross exaggeration emanating 
from men who, on the subject of poisoning, display 
the credulity of the fifteenth century, so ignorant in 
these matters and so prone to the fantastic. And 
our minds receive a shock upon learning that, when 
put to the question, these messengers actually made 
a confession — upon which the story rests — admitting 
that they had been sent by the countess to slay the 
Pope, in the hope that thus Forli might be saved to 
the Riarii. At first we conclude that those wretched 
men, examined to the accompaniment of torture, 
confessed whatever was required of them, as so fre- 
quently happened in such cases. Such, indeed, is the 
very explanation advanced by more than one writer, 
coupled with the suggestion, in some instances, that 
the whole affair was trumped up by the Pope to serve 
his own ends. 

They will believe the wildest and silliest of poisoning 
stories (such as those of Djem and Cardinal Giovanni 
Borgia) which reveal the Borgias as the poisoners ; 
but, let another be accused and the Borgias be the 
intended victims, and at once they grow rational, and- 
point out to you the wildness of the statement, the 
impossibility of its being true. Yet it is a singular 
fact that a thorough investigation of this case of the 
Countess Sforza-Riario's poisoned letter reveals it to be 
neither wild nor impossible but simply diabolical. The 
explanation of the matter is to be found in Andrea 
Bernardi's Chronicles of Forli, He tells us exactly 


how the thing was contrived, with a precision of detail 
which we could wish to see emulated by other con- 
temporaries of his who so lightly throw out accusations 
of poisoning. He informs us that a deadly and 
infectious disease was rampant in Forli in that year 
1499, and that, before dispatching her letter to the 
Pope, the Countess caused it to be placed upon the 
body of one who was sick of this infection — thus 
hoping to convey it to his Holiness/ 

Alexander held a thanksgiving service for his escape 
at Santa Maria della Pace, and Cardinal Raffaele 
Riario fled precipitately from Rome, justly fearful of 
being involved in the papal anger that must fall upon 
his house. 

By that time, however, Cesare had already taken 
the field. The support of Louis, conqueror of Milan, 
had been obtained, and in this Cardinal Giuliano della 
Rovere had once more been helpful to the Borgias. 

His reconciliation with the Pope, long since deserved 
by the services he had rendered the House of Borgia 
in forwarding Cesare's aims, as we have seen, was 
completed now by an alliance which bound the two 
families together. His nephew, Francesco della Rovere, 
had married Alexander's niece, Angela Borgia. 

There is a letter from Giuliano to the Pope, dated 
October 12, 1499, ^^ which he expresses his deep 
gratitude in the matter of this marriage, which natur- 
ally redounded to the advantage of his house, and 
pledges himself to exert all the influence which he 
commands with Louis XH for the purpose of further- 
ing the Duke of Valentinois' wishes. So well does 
he keep this promise that we see him utterly abandon- 
ing his cousins the Riarii, who were likely to be crushed 
under the hoofs of the now charging bull, and devoting 
himself strenuously to equip Cesare for that same 

* " Dite litre lei le aveva fate tocare et tenere adose ad uno nostro 
infetado." — Andrea Bernard! (Cronache di Forlt). 


charge. So far does he go in this matter that he is 
one of the sureties — the other being the Cardinal 
Giovanni Borgia — for the loan of 45,000 ducats raised 
by Cesare in Milan towards the cost of his campaign. 

This is the moment in which to pause and consider 
this man, who, because he was a bitter enemy of 
Alexander's, and who, because earlier he had covered 
the Pope with obloquy and insult and is to do so again 
later, is hailed as a fine, upright, lofty, independent, 
noble soul. 

Not so fine, upright, or noble but that he can put 
aside his rancour when he finds that there is more 
profit in fawning than in snarling ; not so independent 
but that he can become a sycophant who writes pane- 
gyrics of Cesare and letters breathing devotion to 
the Pope, once he has realized that thus his interests 
will be better served. This is the man, remember, 
who dubbed Alexander a Jew and a Moor ; this the 
man who agitated at the Courts of France and Spain 
for Alexander's deposition from the Pontificate on the 
score of the simony of his election ; this the man 
whose vituperations of the Holy Father are so often 
quoted, since — coming from lips so honest — they 
must, from the very moment that he utters them, be 
merited. If only the historian would turn the medal 
about a little, and allow us a glimpse of the reverse as 
well as of the obverse, what a world of trouble and 
misconceptions should we not be spared ! 

Delia Rovere had discovered vain his work of defa- 
mation, vain his attempts to induce the Kings of France 
and Spain to summon a General Council and depose 
the man whose seat he coveted, so he had sought to 
make his peace with the Holy See. The death of 
Charles VIH, and the succession of a king who had 
need of the Pope's friendship and who found a friend 
in Alexander, rendered it all the more necessary that 
della Rovere should set himself to reconquer, by every 
means in his power, the favour of Alexander. 


And so you see this honourable, upright man 
sacrificing his very family to gain that personal end. 
Where now is that stubbornly honest conscience of 
his which made him denounce Alexander as no Christian 
and no Pope ? Stifled by self-interest. It is as well 
that this should be understood, for this way lies the 
understanding of many things. 

The funds for the campaign being found, Cesare 
received from Louis three, hundred lances captained 
by Yves d'Allegre and four thousand foot, composed 
of Swiss and Gascons, led by the Bailie of Dijon. 
Further troops were being assembled for him at 
Cesena — the one fief of Romagna that remained faith- 
ful to the Church — by Achille Tiberti and Ercole 
Bentivogli, and to these were to be added the Pontifical 
troops that would be sent to him; so that Cesare 
found himself ultimately at the head of a considerable 
army, some ten thousand strong, well-equipped and 
supported by good artillery. 

Louis XII left Milan on November 7 — one month 
after his triumphal entrance — and set out to return 
to France, leaving Trivulzio to represent him as ruler 
of the Milanese. Two days later Cesare's army took 
the road, and he himself went with his horse by way 
of Piacenza, whilst the foot, under the Bailie of Dijon, 
having obtained leave of passage through the territories 
of Ferrara and Cremona, followed the Po down to 

Thus did Cesare Borgia — personally attended by a 
Caesarian guard, wearing his livery — set out upon the 
conquest of the Romagna. Perhaps at no period of 
his career is he more remarkable than at this moment. 
To all trades men serve apprenticeships, and to none 
is the apprenticeship more gradual and arduous than 
to the trade of arms. Yet Cesare Borgia served none. 
Like Minerva, springing full-grown and armed into 
existence, so Cesare sprang to generalship in the hour 


that saw him made a soldier. This was the first 
army in which he had ever marched, yet he marched 
at the head of it. In his twenty-four years of life 
he had never so much as witnessed a battle pitched ; 
yet here was he riding to direct battles and to wrest 
victories. Boundless audacity and swiftest intelligence 
welded into an amazing whole ! 



Between his departure from Milan and his arrival 
before Imola, where his campaign was to be inaugur- 
ated, Cesare paid a flying visit to Rome and his father, 
whom he had not seen for a full year. He remained 
three days at the Vatican, mostly closeted with the 
Pope's Holiness. At the end of that time he went 
north again to rejoin his army, which by now had 
been swelled by the forces that had joined it from 
Cesena, some Pontifical troops, and a condotta under 
Vitellozzo Vitelli. 

The latter, who was Lord of Castello, had gone to 
Milan to seek justice at the hands of Louis XH against 
the Florentines, who had beheaded his brother Paolo 
— deservedly, for treason in the conduct of the war 
against Pisa. This Vitellozzo was a valuable and 
experienced captain. He took service with Cesare, 
spurred by the hope of ultimately finding a way to 
avenge himself upon the Florentines, and in Cesare's 
train he now advanced upon Imola and Forli. 

The warlike Countess Caterina Sforza-Riario had 
earlier been granted by her children full administration 
of their patrimony during their minority. To the 
defence of this she now addressed herself with all the 
resolution of her stern nature. Her life had been 
unfortunate, and of horrors she had touched a surfeit. 
Her father, Galeazzo Sforza, was murdered in Milan 
Cathedral by a little band of patriots ; her brother 
Giangaleazzo had died, of want or poison, in the 



Castle of Pavia, the victim of her ambitious uncle, 
Lodovico ; her husband, Girolamo Riario, she had seen 
butchered and flung naked from a window of the very- 
castle which she now defended ; Giacomo Feo, whom 
she had secretly married in second nuptials, was done 
to death in Forli, under her very eyes, by a party of 
insurrectionaries. Him she had terribly avenged. 
Getting her men-at-arms together, she had ridden 
at their head into the quarter inhabited by the 
murderers, and there ordered — as Macchiavelli tells 
us — the massacre of every human being that dwelt in 
it, women and children included, whilst she remained 
at hand to see it done. Thereafter she took a third 
husband in Giovanni di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, who 
died in 1498. By him this lusty woman had a son 
whose name was to ring through Italy as that of one 
of the most illustrious captains of his day — Giovanni 
delle Bande Nere. 

Such was the woman whom Sanuto has called 
" great-souled, but a most cruel virago," who now shut 
herself into her castle to defy the Borgia. 

She had begun by answering the Pope's Bull of 
attainder with the statement that, far from owing the 
Holy See the tribute which it claimed, the Holy See 
was actually in her debt, her husband, Count Girolamo 
Riario, having been a creditor of the Church for the 
provisions made by him in his office of Captain-General 
of the Pontifical forces. This subterfuge, however, 
had not weighed with Alexander, whereupon, having 
also been frustrated in her attempt upon the life of 
the Pope's Holiness, she had proceeded to measures 
of martial resistance. Her children and her treasures 
she had dispatched to Florence that they might be 
out of danger, retaining of the former only her son 
Ottaviano, a young man of some twenty years ; but, 
for all that she kept him near her, it is plain that she 
did not account him worthy of being entrusted with 
the defence of his tyranny, for it was she, herself, the 


daughter of the bellicose race of Sforza, who set about 
the organizing of this. 

Disposing of forces that were entirely inadequate to 
take the field against the invader, she entrenched 
herself in her fortress of Forli, provisioning it to 
withstand a protracted siege and proceeding to fortify 
it by throwing up outworks and causing all the gates 
but one to be built up. 

Whilst herself engaged upon military measures 
she sent her son Ottaviano to Imola to exhort the 
Council to loyalty and the defence of the city. But 
his mission met with no success. Labouring against 
him was a mighty factor which in other future cases 
was to facilitate Cesare's subjection of the Romagna. 
The Riarii — in common with so many other of the 
Romagna tyrants — had so abused their rule, so ground 
the people with taxation, so offended them by violence, 
and provoked such deep and bitter enmity that in this 
hour of their need they found themselves deservedly 
abandoned by their subjects. The latter were become 
eager to try a change of rulers, in the hope of finding 
thus an improved condition of things ; a worse, they 
were convinced, would be impossible. 

So detested were the Riarii and so abhorred the 
memory they left behind them in Imola that for years 
afterwards the name of Cesare Borgia was blessed 
there as that of a minister of divine justice (" tanquam 
minister divina justitiae ") who had lifted from them 
the harsh yoke by which they had been oppressed. 

And so it came to pass that, before ever Cesare 
had come in sight of Imola, he was met by several of 
its gentlemen who came to offer him the town, and 
he received a letter from the pedagogue Flaminio 
with assurances that, if it should be at all possible to 
them, the inhabitants would throw open the gates to 
him on his approach. And Flaminio proceeded to 
implore the duke that should he, nevertheless, be 
constrained to have recourse to arms to win admit- 


tance, he should not blame the citizens nor do violence 
to the city by putting it to pillage, assuring him that 
he would never have a more faithful, loving city than 
Imola once this should be in his power. 

The duke immediately sent forward Achille Tiberti 
with a squadron of horse to demand the surrender of 
the town. And the captain of the garrison of Imola 
replied that he was ready to capitulate, since that 
was the will of the people. Three days later — on 
November 27 — Cesare rode in as conqueror. 

The example of the town, however, was not followed 
by the citadel. Under the command of Dionigio di 
Naldo the latter held out, and, as the duke's army 
made its entrance into Imola, the castellan signified 
his resentment by turning his cannon upon the 
town itself, with such resolute purpose that many 
houses were set on fire and demolished. This Naldo 
was one of the best reputed captains of foot of his day, 
and he had seen much service under the Sforza ; but 
his experience could avail him little here. 

On the 28th Cesare opened the attack, training 
his guns upon the citadel ; but it was not until a week 
later that, having found a weak spot in the walls on 
the side commanding the town, he opened a breach 
through which his men were able to force a passage, 
and so possess themselves of a half-moon. Seeing the 
enemy practically within his outworks, and being 
himself severely wounded in the head, Naldo accounted 
it time to parley. He begged a three-days' armistice, 
pledging himself to surrender at the end of that time 
should he not receive reinforcements in the mean- 
while ; and to this arrangement the duke consented. 

The good' faith of Naldo has been questioned, and 
it has been suggested that his asking for three days' 
grace was no better than a cloak to cover his treacher- 
ous sale of the fortress to the besieger. It seems, 
however, to be no more than one of those lightly- 
uttered, irresponsible utterances with which the 


chronicles of the time abound, for Naldo had left his 
wife and children at Forli in the hands of the Countess, 
as hostages for his good faith, and this renders im- 
probable the unsupported story of his baseness. 

On December 7, no reinforcements having reached 
him, Naldo made formal surrender of the citadel, safe- 
conduct having been granted to his garrison. 

A week later there arrived at Imola Cesare's cousin, 
the Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, whom the Pope had 
constituted legate in Bologna and the Romagna in 
place of the Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, and whom he 
had sent to support Cesare's operations with ecclesias- 
tical authority. Cardinal Giovanni, as the Pope's re- 
presentative, received in the Church of San Domenico 
the oath of fealty of the city to the Holy See. This 
was pledged by four representative members of the 
Council of Thirty ; and by that act the conquest and 
subjection of the town became a fully accomplished 

The lesser strongholds of the territory threw up 
their gates one by one before the advancing enemy, 
until only Forli remained to be taken. Cesare pushed 
forward to reduce it. 

On his way he passed through Faenza, whose tyrant, 
Manfredi, deeming himself secure in the protection 
of Venice and in view of the circumstance that the 
republic had sent to Rome the arrears of tribute due 
from his fief, and anxious to conciliate the Pope, re- 
ceived and entertained Cesare very cordially. 

At Forli the case of Imola was practically repeated. 
Notwithstanding that the inhabitants were under 
the immediate eye of the formidable countess, and 
although she sent her brother, Alessandro Sforza, to 
exhort the people and the Council to stand by her, the 
latter, weary as the rest of the oppressive tyranny of 
her family, dispatched their representatives to Cesare 
to offer him the town. 

The Countess's valour was of the sort that waxes as 


the straits become more desperate. Since the town 
abandoned and betrayed her, she would depend upon 
her citadel, and by a stubborn resistance make Cesare 
pay as dearly as possible for the place. To the danger 
which she seems almost eager to incur for her own 
part, this strong-minded, comely matron will not 
subject the son she has kept beside her until now ; and 
so she packs Ottaviano off to Florence and safety. 
That done, she gives her mutinous subjects a taste of 
her anger by attempting to seize half a dozen of the 
principal citizens of Forli. As it happened, not only 
did this intent miscarry, but it went near being the 
means of involving her in battle even before the duke's 
arrival ; for the people, getting wind of the affair, took 
up arms to defend their threatened fellow-citizens. 

She consoled herself, however, by seizing the persons 
of Nicolo Tornielli and Lodovico Ercolani, whom the 
Council had sent to inform her that their representa- 
tives had gone to Cesare with the offer of the town. 
Further, to vent her rage and signify her humour, she 
turned her cannon upon the Communal Palace and 
shattered the tower of it. 

Meanwhile Cesare advanced. It was again Tiberti 
who now rode forward with his horse to demand the 
surrender of Forli. This was accorded as readily as 
had been that of Imola, whereupon Cesare came up 
to take possession in person ; but, despite the cordial 
invitation of the councillors, he refused to enter the 
gates until he had signed the articles of capitulation. 

On December 19, under a deluge of rain, Cesare, 
in full armour, the banner of the Church borne ahead 
of him, rode into Forli with his troops. He was housed 
in the palace of Count Luifo Nomaglie (one of the 
gentlemen whom Caterina had hoped to capture) , and 
his men were quartered through the town. These 
foreign soldiers of his seem to have got a little out of 
hand here at Forli, and they committed a good many 
abuses, to the dismay and discomfort of the citizens. 


Sanuto comments upon this with satisfaction, account- 
ing the city well served for having yielded herself up 
like a strumpet. It is a comment more picturesque 
than just, for obviously Forli did not surrender 
through pusillanimity, but to the end that it might 
be delivered from the detestable rule of the Riarii. 

The city occupied, it now remained to reduce the 
fortress and bring its warrior-mistress to terms. Cesare 
set about this at once, nor allowed the Christmas 
festivities to interfere with his labours, but kept his 
men at work to bring the siege-guns into position. On 
Christmas Day the countess belatedly attempted a 
feeble ruse in the hope of intimidating them. She 
flew from her battlements a banner, bearing the device 
of the lion of St. Mark, thinking to trick Cesare into 
the belief that she had obtained the protection of 
Venice, or, perhaps, signifying thus that she threw 
herself into the arms of the republic, making surrender 
of her fiefs to the Venetians to the end that she might 
spite a force which she could not long withstand — 
as Giovanni Sforza had sought to do. 

But Cesare, nowise disturbed by that banner, pur- 
sued his preparations, which included the mounting 
of seven cannons and ten falconets in the square before 
the Church of St. John the Baptist. When all was 
ready for the bombardment, he made an effort to 
cause her to realize the hopelessness of her resistance 
and the vain sacrifice of life it must entail. He may 
have been moved to this by the valour she displayed, 
or it may have been that he obeyed the instincts of 
generalship which made him ever miserly in the matter 
of the lives of his soldiers. Be that as it may, with in- 
tent to bring her to a reasonable view of the situation, 
he rode twice to the very edge of the ditch to parley 
with her ; but all that came of his endeavours was 
that on the occasion of his second appeal to her, 
he had a narrow escape of falling a victim to her 
treachery, and so losing his life. 


She came down from the ramparts, and, ordering 
the lowering of the bridge, invited him to meet her 
upon it that there they might confer more at their 
ease, having, meanwhile, instructed her castellan to 
raise the bridge again the moment the duke should 
set foot upon it. The castellan took her instruct- 
ions too literally, for even as the duke did set one 
foot upon it there was a grind and clank of machinery, 
and the great structure swung up and clattered into 
place. The duke remained outside, saved by a too 
great eagerness on the part of those who worked the 
winches, for had they waited but a second longer they 
must have trapped him. 

Cesare returned angry to Forli, and set a price upon 
Caterina's head — 20,000 ducats if taken alive, 10,000 
if dead ; and on the morrow he opened fire. For 
a fortnight this was continued without visible result, 
and daily the countess was to be seen upon the walls 
with her castellan, directing the defences. But on 
January 12, Cesare's cannon having been concentrated 
upon one point, a breach was opened at last. In- 
stantly the waiting citizens, who had been recruited 
for the purpose, made forward with their faggots, 
heaping them up in the moat until a passage was 
practicable. Over this went Cesare's soldiers to force 
an entrance. 

A stubborn fight ensued within the ravelin, where 
the duke's men were held in check by the defenders, 
and not until some four hundred corpses choked that 
narrow space did the besieged give ground before 

Like most of the Italian fortresses of the period, 
the castle of Forli consisted of a citadel within a 
citadel. In the heart of the main fabric — but cut 
off from it again by its own moat — arose the great 
tower known as the Maschio. This was ever the 
last retreat of the besieged when the fortress itself 
had been carried by assault, and, in the case of the 


Maschio of the Citadel of Forii, so stout was its 
construction that it was held to be practically invul- 

Had the countess's soldiers made their retreat in 
good order to this tower, where all the munitions and 
provisions were stored, Cesare would have found 
the siege but in the beginning ; but in the confusion 
of that grim hour, besieged and besiegers, Borgian 
and Riarian, swept forward interlocked, a writhing, 
hacking, bleeding mob of men-at-arms. Thus they 
flung themselves in a body across the bridge that 
spanned the inner moat, and so into the Maschio, 
whilst the stream of Cesare's soldiers that poured 
uninterruptedly across in the immediate wake of that 
battling mass rendered it impossible for the defenders 
to take up the bridge. 

Within the tower the carnage went on, and the 
duke's men hacked their way through what remained 
of the Forlivese until they had made themselves 
masters of that inner stronghold whither Caterina 
had sought her last refuge. 

A Burgundian serving under the Bailie of Dijon 
was the first to come upon her in the room to which 
she had fled with a few attendants and a handful of 
men, amongst whom were Alessandro Sforza, Paolo 
Riario, and Scipione Riario — this last an illegitimate 
son of her first husband's, whom she had adopted. 
The Burgundian declared her his prisoner, and held 
her for the price that had been set upon her head until 
the arrival of Cesare, who entered the citadel with his 
officers a little while after the final assault had been 

Cesare received and treated her with the greatest 
courtesy, and, seeing her for the moment destitute, 
he presented her with a purse containing two hundred 
ducats for her immediate needs. Under his escort 
she left the castle, and was conducted, with her few 
remaining servants, to the Nomaglie Palace to remain 


in the Duke's care, his prisoner. Her brother and 
the other members of her family found with her were 
similarly made prisoners. 

After her departure the citadel was given over to 
pillage, and all hell must have raged in it if we may 
judge from an incident related by Bernardi in his 
chronicles. A young clerk, named Evangelista da 
Monsignane, being seized by a Burgundian soldier 
who asked him if he had any money, produced and 
surrendered a purse containing thirteen ducats, and 
so got out of the mercenaries' clutches, but only to 
fall into the hands of others, one of whom again 
declared him a prisoner. The poor youth, terrified 
at the violence about him, and eager to be gone from 
that shambles, cried out that, if they would let him 
go, he would pay them a ransom of a hundred ducats. 

Thereupon " Surrender to me ! " cried one of the 
soldiers, and, as the clerk was about to do so, another, 
equally greedy for the ransom, thrust himself for- 
ward. " No. Surrender to me, rather," demanded 
this one. 

The first insisted that the youth was his prisoner, 
whereupon the second brandished his sword, threaten- 
ing to kill Evangelista. The clerk, in a panic, flung 
himself into the arms of a monk who was with him, 
crying out for mercy, and there in the monk's arms 
he was brutally slain, " to put an end," said his mur- 
derer, " to the dispute." 

Forlimpopoli surrendered a few days later to Yves 
d'Allegre, whom Cesare had sent thither, whilst in 
Forli, as soon as he had reduced the citadel, and before 
even attempting to repair the damage done, the duke 
set about establishing order and providing for the 
dispensation of justice, exerting to that end the rare 
I administrative ability which not even his bitterest 
I detractors have denied him. 

He sent a castellan to Forlimpopoli and fetched 

(From the fresco by Gustavo Vasari.) 

Alinari photo. 


from Imola a Podest^ for Forli.^ He confirmed the 
Council of Forty that ruled Forli — being ten for each 
quarter of the city — and generally made sound and 
wise provision for the town's well-being, which we 
shall presently see bearing fruit. 

Next the repairing of the fortress claimed his at- 
tention, and he disposed for this, entrusting the exe- 
cution of his instructions to Ramiro de Lorqua, 
whom he left behind as governor. In the place where 
the breach was opened by his cannon he ordered the 
placing of a marble panel bearing his arms ; and there 
it is to be seen to this day : Dexter, the sable bars 
of the House of Lenzol ; Sinister, the Borgia bull 
in chief, and the lilies of France ; and, superim- 
posed, an inescutcheon bearing the Pontifical arms. 

All measures being taken so far as Forli was con- 
cerned, Cesare turned his attention to Pesaro, and 
prepared to invade it. Before leaving, however, he 
awaited the return of his absent cousin, the Cardinal 
Giovanni Borgia, who, as papal legate, was to receive 
the oath of fealty of the town; but, instead of the 
cardinal whom he was expecting, came a messenger 
with news of his death of fever at Fossombrone. 

Giovanni Borgia had left Forli on December 28 
to go to Cesena, with intent, it was said, to recruit 
to his cousin's army those men of Rimini, who, exiled 
and in rebellion against their tyrant Malatesta, had 
sought shelter in that Pontifical fief. Thence he 
had moved on to Urbino, where — in the ducal palace — 
he awaited news of the fall of Forli, and where, whilst 
waiting, he fell ill. Nevertheless, when the tidings 
of Cesare's victory reached him, he insisted upon 
getting to horse, to repair to Forli ; but, discovering 

* It was customary throughout Italy that the Podesta, or chief 
magistrate, should never be a native of the town — rarely of the State 
— in which he held his office. Thus, having no local interests or 
relationships, he was the likelier to dispense justice with desirable 



himself too ill to keep the saddle, he was forced to 
abandon the journey at Fossombrone, whilst the 
outcome of the attempt was an aggravation of the 
fever resulting in the cardinal's death. 

Cesare appears to have been deeply grieved by the 
loss of Giovanni, and there is every cause to suppose 
that a sincere attachment prevailed between the 
. cousins. Yet Cesare has been charged with his death, 
I and accused of having poisoned him, and, amidst 
i the host of silly, baseless accusations levelled against 
; Cesare, you shall find none more silly or baseless than 
this. In other instances of unproven crimes with 
which he has been charged there may be some vestiges of 
matter that may do duty for evidence or be con- 
strued into motives ; here there is none that will 
serve one purpose or the other, and the appalling and 
rabid unscrupulousness, the relentless malice of Borgian 
chroniclers is in nothing so completely apparent as 
in this accusation. 

Sanuto mentions the advices received, and the ru- 
mours which say that Cesare murdered him through 
jealousy, knowing him beloved by the Pope, seeing 
him a legate, and fearing that he might come to be 
given the governorship of some Romagna fief. 

When Gandia died and Cesare was accused of having 
murdered him, the motive advanced was that Cesare, 
a papal legate, resented a brother who was a duke. 
Now, Cesare, being a duke, resents a cousin's being 
a papal legate. You will observe that, if this method 
, of discovering motives is pursued a little further, 

L there is no man who died in Cesare's life-time 
whom Cesare could not be shown to have had 
motives for murdering. 

Sillier even than Sanuto's is the motive with which 
Giovio attempts to bolster up the accusation which he 
reports : " He [Cesare] poisoned him because he 
[Giovanni] favoured the Duke of Gandia." 

That, apparently, was the best that Giovio could 


think of. It is hardly intelligible — ^which is perhaps 
inevitable, for it is not easy to be intelligible when 
you don't quite know, yourself, what you mean, 
which must have been Giovio's case. 

The whole charge is so utterly foolish, stupid, and 
malicious that it would scarcely be worth mentioning, 
were it not that so many modern writers have in- 
cluded this among the Borgia crimes. As a matter 
of fact — and as a comparison of the above-cited dates 
will show — eighteen days had elapsed between Gio- 
vanni Borgia's leaving Cesare at Forli and his suc- 
cumbing at Urbino — which in itself disposes of the 
matter. It may be mentioned that this is a circum- 
stance which those foolish or deliberately malicious 
calumniators either did not trouble to ascertain or 
else thought it wiser to slur over. Although, had 
they been pressed, there was always the death of 
Djem to be cited and the fiction of the slow-working 
poison specially invented to meet and explain his case. 

The preparations for the invasion of Pesaro were 
complete, and it was determined that on January 22 
the army should march out of Forli ; but on the 
night of the 21st a disturbance occurred. The Swiss 
under the Bailie of Dijon became mutinous — they 
appear throughout to have been an ill-conditioned 
lot — and they clamoured now for higher pay if they 
were to go on to Pesaro, urging that already they had 
served the Duke of Valentinois as far as they had 
pledged themselves to the King of France. 

Tow^ards the third hour of the night the Bailie 
himself, with these mutineers at his heels, presented 
himself at the Nomaglie Palace to demand that the 
Countess Sforza-Riario should be delivered into his 
hands. His claim was that she was his prisoner, since 
she had been arrested by a soldier of his own, and that 
her surrender was to France, to which he added — 
a thought inconsequently, it seems — that the French 


law forbade that women should be made prisoners. 
Valentinois, taken utterly by surprise, and without 
the force at hand to resist the Bailie and his Swiss, 
was compelled to submit and to allow the latter to 
carry the countess off to his own lodging ; but he 
dispatched a messenger to Forlimpopoli with orders 
for the immediate return of Allegre and his horse, 
and in the morning, after Mass, he had the army drawn 
up in the market-place ; and so, backed by his Spanish, 
French, and Italian troops, he faced the threatening 

The citizens were in a panic, expecting to see battle 
blaze out at any moment, and apprehensive of the 
consequences that might ensue for the town. 

The Swiss had grown more mutinous than ever over- 
night, and they now refused to march until they were 
paid. It was Cesare's to quell and restore them 
to obedience. He informed them that they should 
be paid when they reached Cesena, and that, if 
they were retained thereafter in his employ, their 
pay should be on the improved scale which they 
demanded. Beyond that he made no concessions. 
The remainder of his harangue was matter to cow 
them into submission, for he threatened to order the 
ringing of the alarm-bells, and to have them cut to 
pieces by the people of Forli whom their gross and 
predatory habits had already deeply offended. 

Order was at last restored, and the Bailie of Dijon 
was compelled to surrender back the countess to 
Cesare. But their departure was postponed until 
the morrow. On that day, January 23, after receiving 
the oath of fealty from the Anziani in the Church 
of San Mercuriale, the duke marched his army out 
of Forli and took the road to Pesaro. 

Caterina Sforza Riario went with him. Dressed 
in black and mounted upon a white horse, the hand- 
some amazon rode between Cesare Borgia and Yves 
d' Allegre. 


At Cesena the duke made a halt, and there he left 
the countess in the charge of d'Allegre whilst he 
himself rode forward to overtake the main body of 
his army, which was already as far south as Cattolica. 

As for Giovanni Sforza, despite the fact that the 
Duke of Urbino had sent some foot to support him, 
he was far more likely to run than to fight, and in 
fact he had already taken the precaution of placing 
his money and valuables in safety and was disposing, 
himself, to follow them. But it happened that 
there was not yet the need. Fate — in the shape of 
his cousin Lodovico of Milan — postponed the occasion. 

On the 26th Cesare lay at Montefiori, and there he 
was reached by couriers sent at all speed from Milan 
by Trivulzio. Lodovico Sforza had raised an army 
of Swiss and German mercenaries to reconquer his 
dominions, and the Milanese were opening their 
arms to receive him back, having already discovered 
that, in exchanging his rule for that of the French, 
they had but exchanged King Log for King Stork. 
Trivulzio begged for the instant return of the French 
troops serving under Cesare, and Cesare, naturally 
compelled to accede, was forced to postpone the con- 
tinuance of his campaign, a matter which must have 
been not a little vexatious at such a moment. 

He returned to Cesena, where, on the 27th, he dis- 
missed Yves d'Allegre and his men, who made all haste 
back to Milan, so that Cesare was left with a force 
of not more than a thousand foot and five hundred 
horse. These, no doubt, would have sufficed him 
for the conquest of Pesaro, but Giovanni Sforza, 
encouraged by his cousin's return, and hopeful 
now of assistance, would certainly entrench himself 
and submit to a siege which must of necessity be 
long-drawn, since the departure of the French had 
deprived Cesare of his artillery. 

Therefore the duke disposed matters for his return 
to Rome instead, and, leaving Ercole Bentivogli with 


five hundred horse and Gonsalvo de Mirafuente 
with three hundred foot to garrison Forli, he left 
Cesena with the remainder of his forces, including 
Vitelli's horse, on January 30. With him went 
Caterina Sforza-Riario, and of course there were 
not wanting those who alleged that, during the few 
days at Cesena he had carred his conquest of her 
further than the matter of her territories ^ — a rumour 
whose parent was, no doubt, the ribald jest made in 
Milan by Trivulzio when he heard of her capture. 

He conducted her to Rome — in golden chains, 
" like another Palmyra," it is said — and there she was 
given the beautiful Belvedere for her prison until 
she attempted an escape in the following June ; where- 
upon, for greater safety, she was transferred to the 
Castle of Sant' Angelo. There she remained until 
May of 1 501, when, by the intervention of the King 
of France, she was set at liberty and permitted to 
withdraw to Florence to rejoin her children. In 
the city of the lilies she abode, devoting herself to 
good works until she ended her turbulent, unhappy 
life in 1509. 

The circumstance that she was not made to pay 

^ with her life for her attempt to poison the Pope is 

surely something in favour of the Borgias, and it goes 

some way towards refuting the endless statements of 

their fierce and vindictive cruelty. Of course, it has 

I been urged that they spared her from fear of France ; 

I but, if that is admitted, what then becomes of the 

j theory of that secret poison which might so well have 

I been employed in such a case as this ? 

* " Teneva detta Madona (la qual e belissima dona, fiola del Ducha 
Galeazo di Milan) di zorno e di note in la sua camera, con la quale 
— judicio ompium — si deva piacer" (Sanuto's Diarii). 



Although Cesare Borgia's conquest of Imola and 
Forli cannot seriously be accounted extraordinary- 
military achievements — save by consideration of the 
act that this was the first campaign he had conducted 
— yet in Rome the excitement caused by his victory 
was enormous. Possibly this is to be assigned to the 
compelling quality of the man's personality, which was 
beginning to manifest and assert itself and to issue 
from the shadow into which it had been cast hitherto 
by that of his stupendous father. 

The enthusiasm mounted higher and higher whilst 
preparations were being made for his reception, and 
reached its climax on February 26, when, with over- 
powering pomp, he made an entrance into Rome that 
was a veritable triumph. 

Sanuto tells us that, as news came of his approach, 
the Pope, in his joyous impatience and excitement, 
became unable to discharge the business of his office, 
and no longer would give audience to any one. Alex- 
ander had ever shown himself the fondest of fathers 
to his children, and now he overflowed with pride 
in this son who already gave such excellent signs of 
his capacity as a condottiero, and justified his having 
put off the cassock to strap a soldier's harness to his 
lithe and comely body. 

Cardinals Farnese and Borgia, with an imposing 
suite, rode out some way beyond the gates of Santa 
Maria del Popolo to meet the duke. At the gate 



itself a magnificent reception had been prepared him, 
and the entire Pontifical Court, prelates, priests, 
ambassadors of the Powers, and officials of the city 
and curia down to the apostolic abbreviators and secre- 
taries, waited to receive him. 

It was towards evening — between the twenty- 
second and the twenty- third hours — when he made his 
entrance. In the van went the baggage-carts, and 
behind these marched a thousand foot in full campaign 
apparel, headed by two heralds in the duke's livery 
and one in the livery of the King of France. Next 
came Vitellozzo's horse followed by fifty mounted 
gentlemen-at-arms — the duke's Caesarean guard — 
immediately preceding Cesare himself. 

The handsome young duke — " bello e biondo " — 
was splendidly mounted, but very plainly dressed in 
black velvet with a simple gold chain for only orna- 
ment, and he had about him a hundred guards on 
foot, also in black velvet, halbert on shoulder, and a 
posse of trumpeters in a livery that displayed his 
arms. In immediate attendance upon him came 
several cardinals on their mules, and behind these 
followed the ambassadors of the Powers, Cesare's 
brother Giuffredo Borgia, and Alfonso of Aragon, 
Duke of Biselli and Prince of Salerno — Lucrezia's 
husband and the father of her boy Roderigo, born 
some three months earlier. Conspicuous, too, in 
Cesare's train would be the imposing figure of the 
formidable Countess Sforza-Riario, in black upon her 
white horse, riding in her golden shackles between 
her two attendant women. 

As the procession reached the Bridge of Sant' Angelo 
a salute was thundered forth by the guns from the 
castle, where floated the banners of Cesare and of the 
Church. The press of people from the Porta del 
Popolo all the way to the Vatican was enormous. It 
was the year of the Papal Jubilee, and the city was 
thronged with pilgrims from all quarters of Europe 


who had flocked to Rome to obtain the plenary in- 
dulgence offered by the Pope. So great was the 
concourse on this occasion that the procession had the 
greatest difficulty in moving forward, and the pro- 
gress through the streets, packed with shouting multi- 
tudes, was of necessity slow. At last, however, the 
Bridge of Sant' Angelo being crossed, the procession 
pushed on to the Vatican along the new road inau- 
gurated for the Jubilee by Alexander in the previous 

From the loggia above the portals of the Vatican 
the Pope watched his son's imposing approach, and 
when the latter dismounted at the steps his Holiness, 
with his five attendant cardinals, descended to the 
Chamber of the Papagallo — the papal audience- 
chamber, contiguous to the Borgia apartments — to 
receive the duke. Thither sped Cesare with his 
multitude of attendants, and at sight of him now 
the Pope's eyes were filled with tears of joy. The 
duke advanced gravely to the foot of the throne, 
where he fell upon his knees, and was overheard by 
Burchard to express to his father, in their native 
Spanish, all that he owed to the Pope's Holiness, to J 
which Alexander replied in the same tongue. Then /, 
Cesare stooped and kissed the Pope's feet and then 1/ 
his hand, whereupon Alexander, conquered no doubt I 
by the paternal instincts of affection that were so / 
strong in him, raised his son and took him fondly in / 
his arms. / 

The festivities in honour of Cesare's return were 
renewed in Rome upon the morrow, and to this the 
circumstance that the season was that of carnival 
undoubtedly contributed and lent the displays a 
threatrical character which might otherwise have been 
absent. In these the duke's victories were made the 
subject of illustration. There was a procession of great 
chariots in Piazza Navona, with groups symbolizing 
the triumphs of the ancient Caesar, in the arrangement 


of which, no doubt, the assistance had been enlisted of 
that posse of valiant artists who were then flocking to 
Rome and the pontifical Court. 

Yriarte, mixing his facts throughout with a liberal 
leaven of fiction, tells us that " this is the precise 
moment in which Cesare Borgia, fixing his eyes upon 
the Roman Caesar, takes him definitely for his model 
and adopts the device ' Aut Caesar, aut nihil.' " 
Cesare Borgia never adopted that device, and never 
^displayed it. In connection with him it is only to 
be found upon the sword of honour made for him 
when, while still a cardinal, he went to crown the 
King of Naples. It is not at all unlikely that the 
inscription of the device upon that sword — which 
throughout is engraved with illustrations of the career 
of Julius Caesar — may have been the conceit of the 
sword-maker as a rather obvious play upon Cesare's 
name.^ Undoubtedly, were the device of Cesare's 
own adoption we should .find it elsewhere, and no- 
where else is it to be found. 

Shortly after Cesare's return to Rome, Imola and 
Forli sent their ambassadors to the Vatican to beseech 
his Holiness to sign the articles which those cities had 
drawn up and by virtue of which they created Cesare 
their lord in the place of the deposed Riarii. 

It is quite true that Alexander had announced 
that, in promoting the Romagna campaign, he had 
for object to restore to the Church the States which 
had rebelliously seceded from her. Yet there is not 
sufficient reason to suppose that he was flagrantly 
breaking his word in acceding to the request of which 
those ambassadors were the bearers and in creating his 
son Count of Imola and Forli. Admitted that this 
was to Cesare's benefit and advancement, it is still to 
be remembered that those fiefs must be governed 
for the Church by a Vicar, as had ever been the case. 

* The scabbard of this sword is to be seen in the South Kensington 
Museum ; the sword itself is in the possession of the Caetani familjr. 


That being so, who could have been preferred to 
Cesare for the dignity, seeing that not only was the 
expulsion of the tyrants his work, but that the in- 
habitants themselves desired him for their lord ? For 
the rest, granted his exceptional qualifications, it is 
to be remembered that the Pope was his father, and — 
setting aside the guilt and scandal of that paternity 
— it is hardly reasonable to expect a father to prefer 
some other to his son for a stewardship for which none 
is so well equipped as that same son. That Imola 
and Forli were not free gifts to Cesare, detached, 
for the purpose of so making them, from the Holy See, 
is clear from the title of Vicar with which Cesare 
assumed control of them, as set forth in the Bull of 

In addition to his receiving the rank of Vicar and 
Count of Imola and Forli, it was in this same month 
of March at last — and after Cesare may be said to have 
earned it — that he received the Gonfalon of the 
Church. With the unanimous concurrence of the 
Sacred College, the Pope officially appointed him 
Captain-General of the Pontifical forces — the coveting 
of which position was urged, it will be remembered, 
as one of his motives for his alleged murder of the 
Duke of Gandia three years earlier. 

On March 29 Cesare comes to St. Peter's to receive 
his new dignity and the further honour of the Golden 
Rose which the Pope is to bestow upon him — the 
symbol of the Church Militant and the Church 

Having blessed the Rose, the Pope is borne solemnly 
into St. Peter's, preceded by the College of Cardinals. 
Arrived before the High Altar, he puts off his tiara — 
the conical, richly jewelled cap, woven from the 
plumage of white peacocks — and bareheaded kneels to 
pray ; whereafter he confesses himself to the Cardinal 
of Benevento, who was the celebrant on this occasion. 
That done, he ascends and takes his seat upon the 


Pontifical Throne, whither come the cardinals to adore 
him, while the organ peals forth and the choir gives 
voice. Last of all comes Cesare, dressed in cloth of 
gold with ermine border, to kneel upon the topmost 
step of the throne, whereupon the Pope, removing his 
tiara and delivering it to the attendant Cardinal of 
San Clemente, pronounces the beautiful prayer of 
the investiture. That ended, the Pope receives from 
the hands of the Cardinal of San Clemente the splendid 
mantle of gonfalonier, and sets it about the duke's 
shoulders with the prescribed words : " May the Lord 
array thee in the garment of salvation and surround 
thee with the cloak of happiness." Next he takes 
from the hands of the Master of the Ceremonies — 
that same Burchard whose diary supplies us with these 
details — the gonfalonier's cap of scarlet and ermine 
richly decked with pearls and surmounted by a dove — 
the emblem of the Holy Spirit — likewise wrought in 
pearls. This he places upon Cesare's auburn head ; 
whereafter, once more putting off his tiara, he utters 
the prescribed prayer over the kneeling duke. 

That done, and the Holy Father resuming his seat 
and his tiara, Cesare stoops to kiss the Pope's feet, then 
rising, goes in his gonfalonier apparel, the cap upon 
his head, to take his place among the cardinals. The 
organ crashes forth again ; the choir intones the 
" Introito ad altare Deum " ; the celebrant ascends 
the altar, and, having offered incense, descends again 
and the Mass begins. 

The Mass being over, and the celebrant having 
doffed his sacred vestments and rejoined his brother 
cardinals, the Cardinal of San Clemente repairs once 
more to the Papal Throne, preceded by two cham- 
berlains who carry two- folded banners, one bearing 
the Pope's personal arms, the other the arms of Holy 
Church. Behind the cardinal follows an acolyte with 
the censer and incense-boat and another with the 
holy water and the aspersorio, and behind these again 


two prelates with a Missal and a candle. The Pope 
rises, blesses the folded banners and incenses them, 
having received the censer from the hands of a priest 
who has prepared it. Then, as he resumes his seat, 
Cesare steps forward once more, and, kneeling, places 
both hands upon the Missal and pronounces in a loud, 
clear voice the words of the oath of fealty to St. Peter 
and the Pope, swearing ever to protect the latter and 
his successors from harm to life, limb, or possessions. 
Thereafter the Pope takes the blessed banners and 
gives the charge of them to Cesare, delivering into 
his hands the white truncheon symbolic of his office, 
whilst the Master of Ceremonies hands the actual 
banners to the two deputies, who in full armour have 
followed to receive them, and who attach them to the 
lances provided for the purpose. 

The investiture is followed by the bestowal of the 
Golden Rose, whereafter Cesare, having again kissed 
the Pope's feet and the Ring of the Fisherman on his 
finger, has the cap of office replaced upon his head by 
Burchard himself, and so the ceremonial ends. 

The Bishop of Isernia was going to Cesena to assume 
the governorship of that Pontifical fief, and, profiting 
by this, Cesare appointed him his lieutenant-general in 
Romagna, with authority over all his other officers 
there and full judicial powers. Further, he desired 
him to act as his deputy and receive the oath of fealty 
of the duke's new subjects. 

Meanwhile, Cesare abode in Rome, no doubt im- 
patient of the interruption which his campaign had 
suffered, and which it seemed must continue yet 
awhile. Lodovico Sforza had succeeded in driving 
the French out of his dominions as easily as he, himself, 
had been driven out by them a few months earlier. 
But Louis XII sent down a fresh army under La 
Tremouille, and Lodovico, basely betrayed by his Swiss 
mercenaries at Novara in April, was taken prisoner. 


That was the definite end of the Sforza rule in Milan. 
For ten years the crafty, scheming Lodovico was left 
to languish a prisoner in the Castle of Loches, at the 
end of which time he miserably died. 

Immediately upon the return of the French to 
Milan, the Pope asked for troops that Cesare might 
resume his enterprise not only against Pesaro, Faenza, 
and Rimini, but also against Bologna, where Giovanni 
Bentivogli had failed to support — as in duty bound — 
the King of France against Lodovico Sforza. But 
Bentivogli repurchased the forfeited French pro- 
tection at the price of 40,000 ducats, and so escaped 
the impending danger ; whilst Venice, it happened, 
was growing concerned to see no profit accruing to 
herself out of this league with France and Rome ; 
and that was a matter which her trader spirit could 
not brook. Therefore, Venice intervened in the 
matter of Rimini and Faenza, which she protected 
in somewhat the same spirit as the dog protected the 
straw in the manger. Next, when, having conquered 
the Milanese, Louis XII turned his thoughts to the 
conquest of Naples, and called upon Venice to march 
with him as became a good ally, the Republic made it 
quite clear that she was not disposed to move unless 
there was to be some profit to herself. She pointed 
out that Mantua and Ferrara were in the same case 
as Bologna, for having failed to lend assistance to 
the French in the hour of need, and proposed to 
Louis XII the conquest and division of those terri- 

Thus matters stood, and Cesare had perforce to 
await the conclusion of the Pisan War in which the 
French were engaged, confident, however, that, once 
that was at an end, Louis, in his anxiety to maintain 
friendly relations with the Pope, would be able to 
induce Venice to withdraw her protection from Rimini 
and Faenza. So much accomplished for him, he was 
now in a position to do the rest without the aid of 


French troops if necessary. The Jubilee — protracted 
for a further year, so vast and continuous was the con- 
course of the faithful, 200,000 of whom knelt in the 
square before St. Peter's on Easter Day to receive the 
Pope's blessing — was pouring vast sums of money into 
the pontifical coffers, and for money men were to be 
had in plenty by a young condottiero whose fame 
had been spreading ever since his return from the 
Romagna. He was now the hope of the soldiers of 
fortune who abounded in Italy, attracted thither from 
all quarters by the continual opportunities for employ- 
ment which that tumultuous land afforded. 

It is in speaking of him at about this time, and again 
praising his personal beauty and fine appearance, 
that Capello says of him that, if he lives, he will be 
one of Italy's greatest captains. 

Such glimpses as in the pages of contemporary 
records we are allowed of Cesare during that crowded 
time of the Papal Jubilee are slight and fleeting. 
On April 13 we see him on horseback accompanying 
the Pope through Rome in the cavalcade that visited 
the four Basilicas to win the indulgence offered, 
and, as usual, he is attended by his hundred armed 
grooms in black. 

On another occasion we behold him very differently 
engaged — giving an exhibition of his superb physical 
gifts, his strength, his courage, and his matchless 
address. On June 24, at a bull-fight held in Rome — 
the Spanish tauromachia having been introduced 
from Naples, where it flourished under the Aragon 
dominion — he went down into the arena, and on 
horseback, armed only with a light lance, he killed 
five wild bulls. But the master-stroke he reserved 
for the end. Dismounting, and taking a double- 
handed sword to the sixth bull that was loosed against 
him, he beheaded the great beast at one single stroke, 
" a feat which all Rome considered great." 

Thus sped the time of waiting, and meanwhile he 


gathered about him a Court not only of captains of 
fortune, but of men of art and letters, whom he 
patronized with a liberality — indeed, a prodigality 
— so great that it presently became proverbial, and, 
incidentally, by its proportions provoked his father's 
disapproval. In the brilliant group of men of 
letters who enjoyed his patronage were such writers as 
Justolo, Sperulo, and that unfortunate poet Serafino 
Cimino da Aquila, known to fame and posterity as 
the great Aquilano. And it would be, no doubt, 
during these months that Pier di Lorenzo painted 
that portrait of Cesare which Vasari afterwards saw 
in Florence, but which, unfortunately, is not now 
known to exist. Bramante, too, was of his Court 
at this time, as was Michelangelo Buonarroti, whose 
superb group of '' Mercy," painted for Cardinal de 
Villiers, had just amazed all Rome. With Pinturicchio, 
and Leonardi da Vinci — whom we shall see later beside 
Cesare — Michelangelo was ever held in the highest 
esteem by the duke. 

The story of that young sculptor's leap into fame 
may not be so widely known but that its repetition 
may be tolerated here, particularly since, remotely 
at least, it touches Cesare Borgia. 

When, in 1496, young Buonarroti, at the age of 
twenty-three, came from Florence to Rome to seek 
his fortune at the opulent Pontifical Court, he brought 
a letter of recommendation to Cardinal Sforza-Riario. 
This was the time of the great excavations about 
Rome ; treasures of ancient art were daily being 
rescued from the soil, and Cardinal Sforza-Riario 
was a great dilletante and collector of the antique. 
With pride of possession, he conducted the young 
sculptor through his gallery, and, displaying his 
statuary to him, inquired could he do anything that 
might compare with it. If the cardinal meant to use 
the young Florentine cavalierly, his punishment 
was immediate and poetic, for amid the antiques 


Michelangelo beheld a sleeping Cupid which he in- 
stantly claimed as his own work. Riario was angry ; 
no doubt suspicious, too, of fraud. This Cupid was 
— as its appearance showed — a genuine antique, which 
the cardinal had purchased from a Milanese dealer 
for two hundred ducats. Michelangelo, in a passion, 
named the dealer — one Baldassare — to whom he had 
sent the statue after treating it, with the questionable 
morality of the cinquecentist, so as to give it the 
appearance of having lain in the ground, to the end 
that Baldassare might dispose of it as an antique. 

His present fury arose from his learning the price 
paid by the cardinal to Baldassare, from whom 
Michelangelo had received only thirty ducats. In his 
wrath he demanded — very arbitrarily it seems — the 
return of his statue. But to this the cardinal would 
not consent until Baldassare had been arrested and 
made to disgorge the money paid him. Then, at 
last, Sforza-Riario complied with Michelangelo's 
demands and delivered him his Cupid — a piece of 
work whose possession had probably ceased to give 
any pleasure to that collector of the antique. 

But the story was bruited abroad, and cultured 
Rome was agog to see the statue which had duped 
so astute a judge as Sforza-Riario. The fame of the 
young sculptor spread like a ripple over water, and 
it was Cesare Borgia — at that time still Cardinal of 
Valencia — who bought the Cupid. Years later he 
sent it to Isabella d'Este, assuring her that it had not 
its equal among contemporary works of art. 




We come now to the consideration of an event which, 
despite the light that so many, and with such as- 
surance, have shed upon it, remains wrapped in un- 
certainty, and presents a mystery second only to that 
of the murder of the Duke of Gandia. 

It was, you will remember, in July of 1498 that 
Lucrezia took a second husband in Alfonso of Aragon, 
the natural son of Alfonso II of Naples and nephew 
of Federigo, the reigning king. He was a handsome 
boy of seventeen at the time of his marriage — one 
year younger than Lucrezia — and, in honour of the 
event and in compliance with the Pope's insistence, he 
was created by his uncle Duke of Biselli and Prince 
of Salerno. On every hand the marriage was said 
to be a love-match, and of it had been born, in 
November of 1499, ^^^ ^^7 Roderigo. 

On July 15, 1500, at about the third hour of the 
night, Alfonso was assaulted and grievously wounded — 
mortally, it was said at first — on the steps of St. Peter's. 

Burchard's account of the affair is that the young 
prince was assailed by several assassins, who wounded 
him in the head, right arm, and knee. Leaving him, 
no doubt, for dead, they fled down the steps, at the 
foot of which some forty horsemen awaited them, 
who escorted them out of the city by the Pertusa 
Gate. The prince was residing in the palace of the 
Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico, but so desperate 
was his condition that those who found him upon the 



steps of the Basilica bore him into the Vatican, 
where he was taken to a chamber of the Borgia Tower, 
whilst the Cardinal of Capua at once gave him ab- 
solution in articulo mortis. 

The deed made a great stir in Rome, and was, of 
course, the subject of immediate gossip, and three 
days later Cesare issued an edict forbidding, under 
pain of death, any man from going armed between 
Sant' Angelo and the Vatican. 

News of the event was carried immediately to 
Naples, and King Federigo sent his own physician, 
Galieno, to treat and tend his nephew. In the care 
of that doctor and a hunchback assistant, Alfonso 
lay ill of his wounds until August 17, when suddenly 
he died, to the great astonishment of Rome, which 
for some time had believed him out of danger. In 
recording his actual death, Burchard is at once ex- 
plicit and reticent to an extraordinary degree. " Not / 
dying," he writes, " from the wound he had taken, / 
he was yesterday strangled in his bed at the nineteenth ' 
hour." \y 

Between the chronicling of his having been wounded 
on the steps of St. Peter's and that of his death, thirty- 
three days later, there is no entry in Burchard's diary 
relating to the prince, nor anything that can in any 
way help the inquirer to a conclusion ; whilst, on the 
subject of the strangling, not another word does the 
Master of Ceremonies add to what has above been 
quoted. That he should so coldly — almost cynically — 
state that Alfonso was strangled, without so much as 
suggesting by whom, is singular in one who, however 
grimly laconic, is seldom reticent — notwithstanding 
that he may have been so accounted by those who 
despaired of finding in his diary the confirmation of 
such points of view as they happen to have chosen 
and of such matters as it pleased them to believe 
and propagate. 

That same evening Alfonso's body was borne, with* 


out pomp, to St. Peter's, and placed in the Chapel of 
Santa Maria delle Febbre. It was accompanied by 
Francesco Borgia, Archbishop of Cosenza. 

The doctor who had been in attendance upon the 
deceased and the hunchback were seized, taken to 
Sant'Angelo and examined, but shortly thereafter 
set at liberty. 

So far we are upon what we may consider safe 
ground. Beyond that we cannot go, save by treading 
the uncertain ways of speculation, and by following 
the accounts of the various rumours circulated at the 
time. Formal and absolutely positive evidence of the 
author of Alfonso's murder there is none. 

The Venetian ambassador, the ineffable, gossip- 
mongering Paolo Capello, whom we have seen possessed 
of the fullest details concerning the Duke of Gandia's 
death — although he did not come to Rome until two 
and a half years after the crime — is again as circum- 
stantial in this instance. You sec in this Capello the 
forerunner of the modern journalist of the baser sort, 
the creature who prowls in quest of scraps of gossip 
and items of scandal, and who, having found them, does 
not concern himself greatly in the matter of their 
absolute truth so that they provide him with sensa- 
tional " copy." It is this same Capello, bear in mind, 
who gives us the story of Cesare's murdering in the 
Pope's very arms that Pedro Caldes who is elsewhere 
shown to have fallen into Tiber and been drowned, 
down to the lurid details of the blood's spurting 
into the Pope's face. 

His famous Relazione to the Senate in September of 
1500 is little better than an epitome of all the scandal 
current in Rome during his sojourn there as ambassador, 
and his resurrection of the old affair of the murder 
of Gandia goes some way towards showing the spirit 
by which he was actuated and his love of sensational 
matter. It has pleased most writers who have dealt 
with the matter of the murder of Alfonso of Aragon 


to follow Capello's statements ; consequently these 
must be examined. 

He writes from Rome — as recorded by Sanuto — 
that on July 16 Alfonso of Biselli was assaulted on 
the steps of St. Peter's, and received four wounds, 
" one in the head, one in the arm, one in the shoulder, 
and one in the back." That was all that was known 
to Capello at the time he wrote that letter, and you 
will observe already the discrepancy between his state- 
ment, penned upon hearsay, and Burchard's account — 
which, considering the latter's position at the Vatican, 
must always be preferred. According to Burchard 
the wounds were three, and they were in the head, 
right arm, and knee. 

On the 19th Capello writes again, and, having 
stated that Lucrezia — who was really prostrate with 
grief at her husband's death — was stricken with fever, 
adds that " it is not known who has. wounded the 
Duke of Biselli, but it is said that it was the same who 
killed and threw into Tiber the Duke of Gandia. 
My Lord of Valentinois has issued an edict that no 
one shall henceforth bear arms between Sant' Angelo 
and the Vatican." 

On the face of it, that edict of Valentinois' seems to 
argue vexation at what had happened, and the desire 
to provide against its repetition — a provision hardly 
likely to be made by the man who had organized the 
assault, unless he sought, by this edict, to throw dust 
into the eyes of the world ; and one cannot associate 
dissimulation after the event and the fear of criticism 
with such a nature as Cesare's or with such a character 
as is given him by those who are satisfied that it was 
he who murdered Biselli. 

The rumour that Alfonso had been assailed by the 
murderer of Gandia is a reasonable enough rumour, 
so long as the latter remains unnamed, for it would 
simply point to some enemy of the House of Borgia 
who, having slain one of its members, now attempts 


to slay another. Whether Capello actually meant 
Cesare when he penned those words on July 19, is 
not as obvious as may be assumed, for it is to be 
borne in mind that, at this date, Capello had not yet 
compiled the " relation " in which he deals with 
Gandia's murder. 

On July 23 he wrote that the duke was very ill, 
indeed, from the wound in his head, and on the 28th 
that he was in danger owing to the same wound 
although the fever had abated. 

On August 18 he announces Alfonso's death in the 
following terms : *' The Duke of Biselli, Madonna 
Lucrezia's husband,died to-day because he was planning 
the death of the Duke [of Valentinois] by means of an 
arbalest-bolt when he walked in the garden ; and the 
duke has had him cut to pieces in his room by his 
"- f This " cutting-to-pieces " form of death is one very 
/dear to the imagination of Capello, and bears some 
—-/^witness to his sensation-mongering proclivities. 
« Coming to matters more public, and upon which 
his evidence is more acceptable, he writes on the 
20th that some servants of the prince's have been 
arrested, and that, upon being put to the question, 
they confessed to the prince's intent to kill the Duke 
of Valentinois, adding that a servant of the duke's 
was implicated. On • the 23rd Capello circumstan- 
tially confirms this matter of Alfonso's attempt upon 
Cesare's life, and states that this has been confessed 
by the master of Alfonso's household, ** the brother 
of his mother. Madonna Drusa." 

That is the sum of Capello's reports to the Senate, 
as recorded by Sanuto. The rest, the full, lurid, 
richly-coloured, sensational story, is contained in his 
" relation " of September 20. He prefaces the narra- 
tive by informing the Senate that the Pope is on 
very bad terms with Naples, and proceeds to relate 
the case of Alfonso of Aragon as follows ; 


'* He was wounded at the third hour of night near 
the palace of the Duke of Valentinois, his brother- 
in-law, and the prince ran to the Pope, saying that he 
had been wounded and that he knew by whom ; and 
his wife Lucrezia, the Pope's daughter, who was in 
the room, fell into anguish. He was ill for thirty- 
three days, and his wife and sister, who is the wife 
of the Prince of Squillace, another son of the Pope's, 
were with him and cooked for him in a saucepan for 
fear of his being poisoned, as the Duke of Valentinois 
so hated him. And the Pope had him guarded by 
sixteen men for fear that the duke should kill him. 
And when the Pope went to visit him Valentinois did 
not accompany him, save on one occasion, when he said 
that what had not been done at breakfast might be 
done at supper. . . . On August 17 he [Valentinois] 
entered the room where the prince was already risen 
from his bed, and, driving out the wife and sister, 
called in his man, named Michieli, and had the prince 
strangled ; and that night he was buried." 

Now the following points must arise to shake the 
student's confidence in this narrative, and in Capello 
as an authority upon any of the other matters that he 
relates : 

(i) " He was wounded near the 'palace of the Duke of 
Valentinois.'^^ This looks exceedingly like an attempt 
to pile up evidence against Cesare, and shows a dis- 
position to resort to the invention of it. Whatever 
may not have been known about Alfonso's death, it 
was known by everybody that he was wounded on the 
steps of St. Peter's, and Capello himself, in his dis- 
patches, had said so at the time. A suspicion that 
Capello's whole relation is to serve the purpose of 
heaping odium upon Cesare at once arises and receives 
confirmation when we consider that, as we have already 
said, it is in this same relation that the fiction about 
Pedro Caldes finds place and that the guilt of the 


murder of the Duke of Gandia is definitely fixed upon 

(ii) " He ran to the Pop [' Corse dal Papa '] saying 
that he had been wounded, and that he knew by whom.^^ 
A man with a wound in his head which endangered 
his life for over a week would hardly be conscious on 
receiving it, nor is it to be supposed that, had he been 
conscious, his assailants would have departed. It 
cannot be doubted that they left him for dead. He 
was carried into the palace, and we know, from Bur- 
chard, that the Cardinal of Capua gave him absolu- 
tion in articulo mortis, which abundantly shows his 
condition. It is unthinkable that he should have 
been able to " run to the Pope," doubtful that he 
should have been able to speak ; and, if he did, who 
was it reported his words to the Venetian ambassa- 
dor ? Capello wisely refrains from saying. 

(iii) Lucrezia and Sancia attempt to protect him 
from poison by cooking his food in his room. This is 
quite incredible. Even admitting the readiness to do 
so on the part of these princesses, where was the need, 
considering the presence of the doctor — admitted 
by Capello — sent from Naples and his hunchback 
assistant ? 

(iv) " 7 he Pope had him guarded by sixteen men for 
fear the duke should kill himJ^ Yet when, according to 
Capello, the duke comes on his murderous errand, 
attended only by Michieli (who has been generally 
assumed by writers to have been Don Michele da 
Corella, one of Cesare's captains), where are these 
sixteen guards ? Capello mentions the dismissal only 
of Lucrezia and Sancia. 

(v) " Valentinois . . . said that what had not been 
done at breakfast might be done at supper.''^ It will be 
observed that Capello never once considers it neces- 
sary to give his authorities for anything that he states. 
It becomes, perhaps, more particularly noteworthy 
than usual in the case of this reported speech of Cesare's. 


He omits to say to whom Cesare addressed those sinister 
wordsy and who reported them to him. The statement 
is hardly one to be accepted without that very necessary 
mention of authorities, nor can we conceive Capello 
omitting them had he possessed them. 

It will be seen that it is scarcely necessary to go 
outside of Capello's own relation for the purpose of 
traversing the statements contained in it, so far as 
the death of Alfonso of Aragon is concerned. 

It is, however, still to be considered that, if Alfonso 
knew who had attempted his life — as Capello states 
that he told the Pope — and knew that he was in 
hourly danger of death from Valentinois, it may surely 
be taken for granted that he would have imparted 
the information to the Neapolitan doctor sent him 
by his uncle, who must have had his confidence. 

We know that, after the prince's death, the physician 
and his hunchback assistant were arrested, but sub- 
sequently released. They returned to Naples, and in 
Naples, if not elsewhere, the truth must have been 
known — definite and authentic facts from the lips 
of eye-witnesses, not mere matters of rumour, as was 
the case in Rome. It is to Neapolitan writings, then, 
that we must turn for the truth of this affair ; and 
yet from Naples all that we find is a rumour — the 
echo of the Roman rumour — " They say^'' writes the 
Venetian ambassador at the Court of King Federigo, 
" that he was killed by the Pope's son." 

A more mischievous document than Capello's 
Relatione can seldom have found its way into the pages 
of history ; it is the prime source of several of the 
unsubstantiated accusations against Cesare Borgia \ 
upon which subsequent writers have drawn — ac- 
cepting without criticism — and from which they have 
formed their conclusions as to the duke's character. 
Even in our owu tjm^s we find the learned Gregorovius 


following Capello's relation step by step, and dealing 
out this matter of the murder of the Duke of Biselli 
in his own paraphrases, as so much substantiated, 
unquestionable fact. We find in his Lucrezia Borgia 
the following statement : " The affair was no 
longer a mystery. Cesare himself publicly declared 
that he had killed the duke because his life had 
been attempted by the latter." 

To say that Cesare " publicly declared that he had 
killed the duke" is to say a very daring thing, and 
is dangerously to improve upon Capello. If it is 
true that Cesare made this public declaration how 
does it happen that no one but Capello heard him ? 
for in all other documents there is no more than 
offered us a rumour of how Alfonso died. Surely 
it is to be supposed that, had Cesare made any such 
declaration, the letters from the ambassadors would 
have rung with it. Yet they will offer you nothing 
but statements of what is being rumoured ! 

Nor does Gregorovius confine himself to that in 
his sedulous following of Capello's Relation. He serves 
up out of Capello the lying story of the murder of 
Pedro Caldes. " What," he says of Cesare, to sup- 
port his view that Cesare murdered Alfonso of 
Aragon, '* could be beyond this terrible man who had 
poignarded the Spaniard Pedro Caldes . . . under the 
Pope's very cloak, so that his blood spurted up into 
the Pope's face ? " This in his History of Rome, In 
his Lucrezia Borgia he almost improves upon it 
when he says that " The Venetian ambassador, Paolo 
Capello, reports how Cesare Borgia stabbed the cham- 
berlain Perotto, etc., hut Bur chard makes no mention 
of the fact,^^ Of the fact of the stabbing, Burchard 
certainly makes no mention ; but he does mention 
that the man was accidentally drowned, as has been 
considered. It is again — and more flagrantly than 
ever — a case of proving Cesare guilty of a crime of 
which there is no conclusive evidence by charging 


him with another, which — in this instance — there 
is actually evidence that he did not commit. 
But this is by the way. 

Burchard's entries in his diary relating to the assault 
upon Alfonso of Aragon can no more escape the 
criticism of the thoughtful than can Capello's re- 
lation. His forty horsemen, for instance, need ex- 
plaining. Apart from the fact that this employment 
of forty horsemen would be an altogether amazing 
and incredible way to set about the murder of a 
single man, it is to be considered that such a troop, 
drawn up in the square before St. Peter's, must of 
necessity have attracted some attention. It was the 
first hour of the night, remember — according to 
Burchard — that is to say, at dusk. Presumably, too, 
those horsemen were waiting when the prince arrived. 
How then, did he — and why was he allowed — to pass 
them, only to be assailed in ascending the steps ? 
Burchard, presumably, did not himself see these 
horsemen ; certainly he cannot have seen them es- 
corting the murderers to the Pertusa Gate. There- 
fore he must have had the matter reported to him. 
Naturally enough, had the horsemen existed, they 
must have been seen. How, then, does it happen 
that Capello did not hear of them ? nor the Florentine 
ambassador, who says that the murderers were four, 
nor any one else apparently ? 

To turn for a moment to the Florentine ambassador's 
letters upon the subject, we find in this other Capello 
— Francesco Capello was his name — accounts which 
differ alike from Paolo Capello's and from Burchard's 
stories. But he is careful to say that he is simply 
repeating the rumours that are abroad, and cites 
several different versions that are current, adding 
that the truth of the affair is not known to anybody. 
His conclusions, however, particularly those given 
in cipher, point to Cesare Borgia as the perpetrator 


of the deed, and hint at some such motive of retalia- 
tion for an attempt upon his own life as that which is 
given by the ambassador of Venice. 

There is much mystery in the matter, despite 
Gregorovius's assertion to the contrary — mystery which 
mere assertion will not dissipate. This conclusion, 
however, it is fair to draw : if, on Capello's evidence, 
we are to accept it that Cesare Borgia is responsible 
for the death of Alfonso of Aragon, then, on the same 
evidence, we must accept the motive as well as the 
deed. We must accept as equally exact his thrice- 
repeated statement in letters to the Senate that the 
prince had planned Cesare's death by posting cross- 
bow-men to shoot him.^ 

Either we must accept all, or we must reject all, 
that Capello tells us. If we reject all, then we are 
left utterly without information as to how Alfonso 
of Aragon died. If we accept all, then we find that 
it was as a measure of retaliation that Cesare compassed 
the death of his brother-in-law, which made it not a 
murder, but a private execution — justifiable under 
the circumstances of the provocation received and 
as the adjustment of these affairs was understood in 
the Cinquecento. 

* It is extremely significant that Capello's Relatione contains 
no mention of Alfonso's plot against Cesare's life, a matter which, 
as we have seen, had figured so repeatedly in that ambassador's dis- 
patches from Rome at the time of the event. This omission is yet 
another proof of the malicious spirit by which the " relation " was 
inspired. The suppression of anything that might justify a deed 
attributed to Cesare reveals how much defamation and detraction 
were the aims of this Venetian, 



In the autumn of 1500, fretting to take the field 
again, Cesare was occupied in raising and equipping 
an army — an occupation which received an added 
stimulus when, towards the end of August, Louis de 
Villeneuve, the French ambassador, arrived in Rome 
with the articles of agreement setting forth the terms 
upon which Louis XII was prepared further to assist 
Cesare in the resumption of his campaign. In these 
it was stipulated that, in return for such assistance, 
Cesare should engage himself, on his side, to aid the 
King of France in the conquest of Naples when the 
time for that expedition should be ripe. Further, 
Louis XII was induced to make representations to 
Venice to the end that the Republic should remove 
her protection from the Manfredi of Faenza and the 
Malatesta of Rimini. 

Venice being at the time in trouble with the Turk, 
and more anxious than ever to conciliate France and 
the Pope, was compelled to swallow her reluctance 
and submit with the best grace she could assume. 
Accordingly she dispatched her ambassadors to Rome 
to convey her obedience to the Pope's Holiness, 
and formally to communicate the news that she 
withdrew her protection from the proscribed fiefs. 

Later in the year — in the month of October — the 
Senate was to confer upon Cesare Borgia the highest 
honour in her gift, the honour of which the Venetians 
were jealous above all else — the honour of Venetian 



citizenship, inscribing his name in the Golden Book, 
bestowing upon him a palace in Venice and con- 
ferring the other marks of distinction usual to the 
occasion. One is tempted to ask. Was it in conse- 
quence of Paolo Capello's lurid Relation that the 
proud Republic considered him qualified for such an 
honour ? 

To return, however, to the matter of the Republic's 
removal of her shield from Rimini and Faenza, Alex- 
ander received the news of this with open joy and 
celebrated it with festivities in the Vatican, whilst 
from being angry with Venice and from declaring that 
the Republic need never again look to him for favour, 
he now veered round completely and assured the 
Venetian envoys, in a burst of gratitude, that he 
esteemed no Power in the world so highly. Cesare 
joined in his father's expressions of gratitude and 
appreciation, and promised that Alexander should be 
succeeded in St. Peter's Chair by such a Pope as 
should be pleasing to Venice, and that, if the cardinals 
but remained united, the Pontificate should go to none 
but a Venetian. 

Thus did Cesare, sincerely or otherwise, attempt 
to lessen the Republic's chagrin to see him ride lance- 
on-thigh as conqueror into the dominions which she 
so long had coveted. 

France once more placed Yves d'Allegre at Cesare's 
disposal, and with him went six hundred lances and 
six hundred Swiss foot. These swelled the forces 
which already Cesare had assembled into an army some 
ten thousand strong. The artillery was under the 
command of Vitellozzo Vitelli, whilst Bartolomeo da 
Capranica was appointed camp-master. Cesare's 
banner was joined by a condotta under Paolo Orsini — 
besides whom there were several Roman gentlemen 
in the duke's following, including most of those who 
had formed his guard of honour on the occasion of 


his visit to France, and who had since then continued 
to follow his fortunes. Achille Tiberti came to Rome 
with a condotta which he had levied in the Romagna 
of young men who had been moved by Cesare's 
spreading fame to place their swords at his disposal. 
A member of the exiled Malvezzi family of Bologna 
headed a little troop of fellow-exiles which came to 
take service with the duke, whilst at Perugia a strong 
body of foot awaited him under Gianpaolo Baglioni. 

In addition to these condotte, numerous were the 
adventurers who came to offer Cesare their swords ; 
indeed he must have possessed much of that personal 
magnetism which is the prime equipment of every 
born leader, for he stirred men to the point of wild 
enthusiasm in those days, and inspired other than 
warriors to bear arms for him. We see men of letters, 
such as Justolo, Calmeta, Sperulo, and others throwing 
down their quills to snatch up swords and follow him. 
Painters and sculptors, too, are to be seen abandoning 
the ideals of art to pursue the ugly realities of war in 
this young condottiero* s train. Among these artists, 
bulks the great Pietro Torrigiani. The astounding 
pen of his brother-sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini, has 
left us a sharp portrait of this man, in which he speaks 
of his personal beauty and tells us that he had more 
the air of a great soldier than a sculptor (which must 
have been, we fancy, Cellini's own case). Torrigiani 
lives in history chiefly for two pieces of work widely 
dissimilar in character — the erection of the tomb of 
Henry VII of England, and the breaking of the nose 
of Michelangelo Buonarroti in the course of a quarrel 
which he had with him in Florence when they were 
fellow-students under Masaccio. Of nothing that he 
ever did in life was he so proud — as we may gather 
from Cellini — as of having disfigured Michelangelo, 
and in that sentiment the naive spirit of his age 
again peeps forth. 

We shall also see Leonardo da Vinci joining the 


duke's army as engineer — but that not until some 
months later. 

Meanwhile his forces grew daily in Rome, and his 
time was consumed in organizing, equipping, and 
drilling these, to bring about that perfect unity for 
which his army was to be conspicuous in spite of the 
variety of French, Italian, Spanish, and Swiss elements 
of which it was composed. So effectively were his 
troops armed and so excellent was the discipline 
prevailing among them, that their like had probably 
never before been seen in the peninsula, and they 
were to excite — as much else of Cesare's work — 
the wonder and admiration of that great critic 

So much, however, was not to be achieved without 
money, and still more would be needed for the cam- 
paign ahead. For this the Church provided. Never 
had the coffers of the Holy See been fuller than at this 
moment. Additional funds accrued from what is 
almost universally spoken of as " the sale of twelve 
cardinals' hats." 

In that year — in September- — twelve new cardinals 
were appointed, and upon each of those was levied, 
as a tax, a tithe of the first year's revenues of the 
benefices upon which they entered. The only justifi- 
able exception that can be taken to this lies in the 
number of cardinals elected at one time, which lends 
colour to the assumption that the sole aim of that 
election was to raise additional funds for Cesare's 
campaign. Probably it was also Alexander's aim 
further to strengthen his power with the Sacred 
College, so that he could depend upon a majority 
to ensure his will in all matters. But we are at the 
moment concerned with the matter of the levied 

It has been dubbed " an atrocious act of simony ; " 
but the reasoning that so construes it is none so clear. 
The cardinals' hats carried with them vast benefices. 

(From a contemporary portrait in the Museimi of Nimes.) 



These benefices were the property of the Church ; they 
were in the gift and bestowal of the Pope, and in the 
bestowing of them the Pope levied a proportionate 
tax. Setting aside the argument that this tax was 
not an invention of Alexander's, does such a proceed- 
ing really amount to a *' sale " of benefices ? A sale 
presupposes bargaining, a making of terms between 
two parties, an adjusting of a price to be paid. There 
is evidence of no such marketing of these benefices ; 
indeed one cardinal, vowed to poverty, received his hat 
without the imposition of a tax, another was Cesare's 
brother-in-law, Amanieu d'Albret, who had been 
promised the hat a year ago. It is further to be borne 
in mind that, four months earlier, the Pope had levied 
a similar decima^ or tax, upon the entire College of 
Cardinals and every official in the service of the Holy 
See, for the purposes of the expedition against the 
Muslim, who was in arms against Christianity. Natur- 
ally that tax was not popular with luxurious, self- 
seeking, cinquecento prelates, who in the main cared 
entirely for their own prosperity and not at all for that 
of Christianity, and you may realize how, by levying 
it, Alexander laid himself open to harsh criticism. 

The only impugnable matter in the deed lies, as has 
been said, in the number of cardinals so created at a 
batch. But the ends to be served may be held to 
justify, if not altogether, at least in some measure, 
the means adopted. The Romagna war for which 
the funds were needed was primarily for the advance- 
ment of the Church, to expunge those faithless vicars 
who, appointed by the Holy See and holding their 
fiefs in trust for her, refused payment of just tribute 
and otherwise so acted as to alienate from the Church 
the States which she claimed for her own. Their 
restoration to the Church — however much it might 
be a means of founding a Borgia dynasty in the Ro- 
magna — made for the greater power and glory of the 
Holy See. Let us remember this, and that such was 



the end which that tax, levied upon those newly 
elected cardinals, went to serve. The aggrandize- 
ment of the House of Borgia was certainly one of the 
results to be expected from the Romagna campaign, 
but we are not justified in accounting it the sole 
aim and end of that campaign. 

Alexander had this advantage over either Sixtus IV 
or Innocent VIII — not to go beyond those Popes 
whom he had served as Vice-Chancellor, for instances 
of flagrant nepotism — that he at least served two 
purposes at once, and that, in aggrandizing his own 
family, he strengthened the temporal power of the 
Church, whereas those others had done nothing but 
undermine it that they might enrich their progeny. 

And whilst on this subject of the " sale " of cardinals' 
hats, it may not be amiss to say a word concerning the 
" sale " of indulgences with which Alexander has 
been so freely charged. Here again there has been 
too loud an outcry against Alexander — an outcry 
whose indignant stridency leads one to suppose that 
the sale of indulgences was a simony invented by him, 
or else practised by him to an extent shamefully un- 
precedented. Such is very far from being the case. 
The arch- type of indulgence-seller — as of all other 
simoniacal practices — is Innocent VIII. In his reign 
we have seen the murderer commonly given to choose 
between the hangman and the purchase of a pardon, 
and we have seen the moneys so obtained providing 
his bastard, the Cardinal Francesco Cibo, with the 
means for the luxuriously licentious life whose gross 
disorders prematurely killed him. 

To no such flagitious lengths as these can it be 
shown that Alexander carried the " sale " of the 
indulgences he dispensed. He had no lack of pre- 
cedent for the practice, and, so far as the actual practice 
itself is concerned, it would be difficult to show that it 
was unjustifiable or simoniacal so long as confined 
within certain well-defined bounds, and so long as 


the sums levied by it were properly employed to the 
benefit of Christianity. It is a practice comparable 
to the mulcting of a civil offender against magisterial 
laws. Because our magistrates levy fines, it does not 
occur to modern critics to say that they sell pardons 
and immunity from gaol. It is universally recognized 
as a wise and commendable measure, serving the two- 
fold purpose of punishing the offender and benefiting 
the temporal State against which he has offended. 
Need it be less commendable in the case of spiritual 
offences against a spiritual State ? It is more useful 
than the imposition of the pattering of a dozen 
prayers at bedtime, and since, no doubt, it falls 
more heavily upon the offender, it possibly makes to 
an even greater extent for his spiritual improvement. 
Thus considered, this '' sale " of indulgences loses 
a deal of the heinousness with which it has been in- 
vested. The funds so realized go into the coffers 
of the Church, which is fit and proper. What after- 
wards becomes of them at the hands of Alexander 
opens up another matter altogether, one in which 
we cannot close our eyes to the fact that he was as 
undutiful as many another who wore the Ring of 
the Fisherman before him. Yet this is to be said for 
him : that, if he plunged his hands freely into the 
treasury of the Holy See, at least he had the ability 
to contrive that this treasury should be well supplied ; 
and the circumstance that, when he died, he left the 
Church far wealthier and more powerful than she 
had been for centuries, with her dominions which his 
precursors had wantonly alienated reconsolidated 
into that powerful State that was to endure for three 
hundred years, is an argument to the credit of his / 
pontificate not lightly to be set aside. ^ 

Imola and Forli had, themselves, applied to the 
Pontiff to appoint Cesare Borgia their ruler in the 
place of the deposed Riarii. To these was now added 


Cesena. In July disturbances occurred there between 
Guelphs and Ghibellines. Swords were drawn and 
blood flowed in the streets, until the governor was 
constrained to summon Ercole Bentivogli and his 
horse from Forli to quell the rioting. The direct 
outcome of this was that — the Ghibellines predomi- 
nating in council — Cesena sent an embassy to Rome 
to beg his Holiness to give the lordship of the fief to 
the Duke of Valentinois. To this the Pope acceded, 
"^and on August 2 Cesare was duly appointed Lord 
Vicar of Cesena. He celebrated his investiture by 
remitting a portion of the taxes, abolishing altogether 
the duty on flour, and by bringing about a peace 
between the two prevailing factions. 

By the end of September Cesare's preparations for 
the resumption of the campaign were completed, and 
early in October (his army fortified in spirit by the 
Pope's blessing) he set out, and made his first halt 
at Nepi. Lucrezia was there, with her Court and her 
child Roderigo, having withdrawn to this her castle 
to mourn her dead husband Alfonso ; and there she 
abode until recalled to Rome by her father some two 
months later. 

Thence Cesare pushed on, as swiftly as the foul 
weather would allow him, by way of Viterbo, Assisi, 
and Noccra to cross the Apennines at Gualdo. Here 
he paused to demand the release of certain prisoners 
in the hill fortress of Fossate, and to be answered by 
a refusal. Angered by this resistance of his wishes 
and determined to discourage others from following 
the example of Fossate, he was swift and terrible in his 
rejoinder. He seized the Citadel, and did by force 
what had been refused to his request. Setting at 
liberty the prisoners in durance there, he gave the 
territory over to devastation by fire and pillage. 

That done he resumed his march, but the weather 
retarded him more and more. The heavy and con- 
tinuous rains had reduced the roads to such a con- 


dition that his artillery fell behind, and he was 
compelled to call a halt once more, at Deruta, and 
wait there four days for his guns to overtake him. 

In Rimini the great House of Malatesta was repre- 
sented by Pandolfo — Roberto Malatesta's bastard 
and successor — a degenerate so detested by his sub- 
jects that he was known by the name of Pandolfaccio 
(a contumelious augmentative, expressing the evil 
repute in which he was held). 

Among his many malpractices and the many abuses 
to which he resorted for the purposes of extorting 
money from his long-suffering subjects was that of 
compelling the richer men of Rimini to purchase 
from him the estates which he confiscated from the 
fuorusciti — those who had sought in exile safety from 
the anger provoked by their just resentment of his 
oppressive misrule. He was in the same case as other 
Romagna tyrants, and now that Venice had lifted from 
him her protecting aegis, he had no illusions as to the 
fate in store for him. So when once more the tramp 
of Cesare Borgia's advancing legions rang through the 
Romagna, Pandolfaccio disposed himself, not for battle, 
but for surrender on the best terms that he might 
succeed in making. 

He was married to Violante, the daughter of Gio- 
vanni Bentivogli of Bologna, and in the first week of 
October he sent her, with their children, to seek shelter 
at her father's Court. Himself, he withdrew into his 
citadel — the famous fortress of his terrible grand- 
father Sigismondo. The move suggested almost that 
he was preparing to resist the Duke of Valentinois, 
and it may have prompted the message sent him by 
the Council to inquire what might be his intention. 

Honour was a thing unknown to this Pandolfaccio 
— even so much honour as may be required for a 
dignified retreat. Since all was lost it but remained 
— by his lights — to make the best bargain that he could 


and get the highest possible price in gold for what 
he was abandoning. So he replied that the Council 
must do whatever it considered to its best advantage, 
whilst to anticipate its members in any offer of sur- 
render, and thus seek the favour and deserve good 
terms at the hands of this man who came to hurl 
him from the throne of his family, he dispatched a 
confidential servant to Cesare to offer him town and 

In the meantime — as Pandolfo fully expected — the 
Council also sent proposals of surrender to Cesare, as 
well as to his lieutenant-general of Romagna, Bishop 
Olivieri, at Cesena. The communications had the 
effect of bringing Olivieri immediately to Rimini, 
and there, on October lo, the articles of capitulation 
were signed by the bishop, as the duke's representative, 
and by Pandolfo Malatesta. It was agreed in these 
that Malatesta should have safe-conduct for himself 
and his familiars, 3,000 ducats and the value — to be 
estimated — of the artillery which he left in the citadel. 
Further, for the price of 5,500 ducats he abandoned 
also the strongholds of Sarsina and Medola and the 
castles of the Montagna. 

His tyranny thus disposed of, Pandolfaccio took ship 
to Ravenna, where the price of his dishonour was to 
be paid him, and in security for which he took with 
him Gianbatvista Baldassare, the son \oi the ducal 

On the day of his departure, to celebrate the blood- 
less conquest of Rimini, solemn High Mass was sung 
in the Cathedral, and Bishop Olivieri received the 
city's oath of allegiance to the Holy See, whither very 
shortly afterwards Rimini sent her ambassadors to 
express to the Pope her gratitude for her release from 
the thraldom of Pandolfaccio. 

Like Rimini, Pesaro too fell without tlie striking 
of a blow, for all that it was by no means as readily 


relinquished on the part of its ruler. Giovanni 
Sforza had been exerting himself desperately for the 
past two months to obtain help that should enable him 
to hold his tyranny against the Borgia might. But 
all in vain. His entreaties to the emperor had met with 
no response, whilst his appeal to Francesco Gonzaga 
of Mantua — whose sister, it will be remembered, 
had been his first wife — had resulted in the Marquis's 
sending him a hundred men under an Albanian, named 
Giacopo. What Giovanni was to do with a hundred 
men it is difficult to conceive, nor are the motives of 
Gonzaga's action clear. We know that at this time 
he was eagerly seeking Cesare's friendship, sorely un- 
easy as to the fate that might lie in store for his own 
dominions, once the Duke of Valentinois should have 
disposed of the feudatories of the Church. Early in 
that year 1500 he had asked Cesare to stand godfather 
for his child, and Cesare had readily consented, where- 
by a certain bond of relationship and good feeling 
had been established between them, which every- 
thing shows Gonzaga most anxious to preserve un- 
severed. The only reasonable conclusion in the 
matter of that condotta of a hundred men is that 
Gonzaga desired to show friendliness to the Lord of 
Pesaro, yet was careful not to do so to any extent that 
might be hurtful to Valentinois. 

As for Giovanni Sforza of whom so many able pens 
have written so feelingly as the constant, unfortunate 
victim of Borgia ambition, there is no need to enter 
into analyses for the purpose of judging him here. 
His own subjects did so in his own day. When a 
prince is beloved by all classes of his people, it must 
follow that he is a good prince and a wise ruler ; when 
his subjects are divided into two factions, one to oppose 
and the other to support him, he may be good or bad, 
or good and bad ; but when a prince can find none to 
stand by him in the hour of peril, it is to be concluded 
that he has deserved little at the hands of those whom 


he has ruled. The latter is the case of Giovanni 
Sforza — this prince whom, Yriarte tells us, " rendered 
sweet the lives of his subjects." The nobility and 
the proletariate of Pesaro abhorred him ; the trader 
classes stood neutral, anxious to avoid the conse- 
quences of partisanship, since it was the class most 
exposed to those consequences. 

On Sunday, October ii — the day after Pandolfo 
Malatesta had relinquished Rimini — news reached 
Pesaro that Ercole Bentivogli's horse was marching 
upon the town, in advance of the main body of 
Cesare's army. Instantly there was an insurrection 
against Giovanni, and the people, taking to arms, 
raised the cry of " Duca I " in acclamation of the 
Duke of Valentinois, under the very windows of their 
ruler's palace. 

Getting together the three hundred men that 
constituted his army, Giovanni beat a hasty retreat 
to Pesaro's magnificent fortress, and that same night 
he secretly took ship to Ravenna accompanied by 
the Albanian Giacopo, and leaving his half-brother, 
Galeazzo Sforza di Cotignola, in command of the 
citadel. Thence Giovanni repaired to Bologna, and, 
already repenting his precipitate flight, he appealed 
for help to Bentivogli, who was himself uneasy, 
despite the French protection he enjoyed. Similarly, 
Giovanni addressed fresh appeals to Francesco Gon- 
zaga ; but neither of these tyrants could or dared 
avail him, and, whilst he was still imploring their 
intervention his fief had fallen into Cesare's power. 

Ercole Bentivogli, with a small body of horse, had 
presented himself at the gates of Pesaro on October 21, 
and Galeazzo Sforza, having obtained safe-conduct 
for the garrison, surrendered. 

Cesare, meanwhile, was at Fano, where he paused 
to allow his army to come up with him, for he had 
outridden it from Fossate, through foul wintry 
weather, attended only by his light horse. It was 


said that he hoped that Fano might offer itself to him 
as other fiefs had done, and — if Pandolfo Collenuc- 
cio is correct — he had been counselled by the Pope 
not to attempt to impose himself upon Fano, but to 
allow the town a free voice in the matter. If his 
hopes were as stated, he was disappointed in them, 
for Fano made no offer to him, and matters remained 
for the present as they were. 

On the 27th, with the banners of the bull unfurled, 
he rode into Pesaro at the head of two thousand 
men, making his entrance with his wonted pomp, of 
whose dramatic values he was so fully aware. He was 
met at the gates by the Council, which came to offer 
him the keys of the town, and, despite the pouring 
rain under which he entered the city, the people of 
Pesaro thronged the streets to acclaim him as he rode. 

He took up his lodgings at the Sforza Palace, so 
lately vacated by Giovanni — the palace where Lu- 
crezia Borgia had held her Court when, as Giovanni's 
wife, she had been Countess of Pesaro and Cotignola. 
Early on the morrow he visited the citadel, which 
was one of the finest in Italy, rivalling that of Rimini 
for strength. On his arrival there, a flourish of 
trumpets imposed silence, while the heralds greeted 
him formally as Lord of Pesaro. He ordered one of 
the painters in his train to draw up plans of the fortress 
to be sent to the Pope, and issued instructions for 
certain repairs and improvements which he con- 
sidered desirable. 

Here in Pesaro came to him the famous Pandolfo 
Collenuccio, as envoy from the Duke of Ferrara, to 
congratulate Cesare upon the victory. In sending 
Collenuccio at such a time Ercole d'Este paid the 
Duke of Valentinois a subtle, graceful compliment. 
This distinguished poet, dramatist, and historian was 
a native of Pesaro who had been exiled ten years 
earlier by Giovanni — which was the tyrant's way of 
showing his gratitude to the man who, more than any 


other, had contributed to the bastard Sforza's succes- 
sion to his father as Lord of Pesaro and Cotignola. 

Collenuccio was one of the few literary men of 
his day who was not above using the ItaHan tongue, 
treating it seriously as a language and not merely as 
a debased form of Latin. He was eminent as a juris- 
consult, and, being a man of action as well as a man of 
letters, he had filled the office of Podest^ in various 
cities ; he had found employment under Lorenzo 
dei Medici, and latterly under Ercole d'Este, whom 
we now see him representing. 

Cesare received him with all honour, sending the 
master of his household, Ramiro de Lorqua, to greet 
him on his arrival and to bear him the usual gifts 
of welcome, of barley, wine, capons, candles, sweet- 
meats, etc., whilst on the morrow the duke gave 
him audience, treating him in the friendliest manner, 
as we see from Collenuccio's own report to the Duke 
of Ferrara. In this he says of Cesare : " He is 
accounted valiant, joyous, and open-handed, and it 
is believed that he holds honest men in great esteem. 
Harsh in his vengeance, according to many, he is 
great of spirit and of ambition, athirst for eminence 
and fame." 

Collenuccio was reinstated by Cesare in the pos- 
sessions of which Giovanni had stripped him, a matter 
which so excited the resentment of the latter that, 
when ultimately he returned to his dominions, one 
of his first acts was to avenge it. Collenuccio, fearing 
that he might not stand well with the tyrant, had 
withdrawn from Pesaro. But Giovanni, with all 
semblance of friendliness, treacherously lured him 
back to cast him into prison and have him strangled 
— a little matter which those who, to the detriment 
of the Borgia, seek to make a hero of this Giovanni 
Sforza, would do well not to suppress. 

A proof of the splendid discipline prevailing in 
Cesare's army is afforded during his brief sojourn in 


Pesaro. In the town itself, some two thousand of 
his troops were accommodated, whilst some thousands 
more swarmed in the surrounding country. Occu- 
pation by such an army was, naturally enough, cause 
for deep anxiety on the part of a people who were 
but too well acquainted with the ways of the fifteenth- 
century men-at-arms. But here was a general who 
knew how to curb and control his soldiers. Under 
the pain of death his men were forbidden from in- 
dijlging any of the predations or violences usual to 
their kind ; and, as a consequence, the inhabitants of 
Pesaro had little to complain of. 

Justolo gives us a picture of the Duke of Valen- 
tinois on the banks of the River Montone, which again 
throws into relief the discipline which his very presence 
— such was the force of his personality — was able to 
enforce. A disturbance arose among his soldiers at 
the crossing of this river, which was swollen with rains 
and the bridge of which had been destroyed. It 
became necessary to effect the crossing in one small 
boat — the only craft available — and the men, crowding 
to the bank, stormed and fought for precedence 
until the affair grew threatening. Cesare rode down 
to the river, and no more than his presence was neces- 
sary to restore peace. Under that calm, cold eye of 
his the men instantly became orderly, and, whilst 
he sat his horse and watched them, the crossing was 
soberly effected, and as swiftly as the single craft 
would permit. 

The duke remained but two days in Pesaro. On 
the 29th, having appointed a lieutenant to represent 
him, and a captain to the garrison, he marched out 
again, to lie that night at Cattolica and enter Rimini 
on the morrow. 

There again he was received with open arms, and 
he justified the people's welcome of him by an im- 
mediate organization of affairs which gave universal 
satisfaction. He made ample provision for the proper 


administration of justice and the preservation of the 
peace ; he recalled the fuorusciti exiled by the un- 
scrupulous Pandolfaccio, and he saw them reinstated 
in the property of which that tyrant had dispossessed 
them. As his lieutenant in Rimini, with strict in- 
junctions to preserve law and order, he left Ramiro 
de Lorqua, when, on November 2, he departed to 
march upon Faenza, which had prepared for resistance. 

What Cesare did in Rimini was no more than he 
was doing throughout the Romagna, as its various 
archives bear witness. They bear witness no less to 
his vast ability as an administrator, showing how he 
resolved the prevailing chaos into form and order 
by his admirable organization and suppression of 
injustice. The same archives show us also that he 
found time for deeds of beneficence which endeared 
him to the people, who everywhere hailed him as their 
deliverer from thraldom. It would not be wise to 
join in the chorus of those who appear to have taken 
Cesare's altruism for granted. The rejection of the 
wild stories that picture him as a corrupt and mur- 
derous monster, utterly inhuman, and lay a dozen 
ghastly crimes to his account need not entail our 
viewing Cesare as an angel of deliverance, a divine 
agent almost, rescuing a suffering people from op- 
pression out of sheer humanitarianism. 

He is the one as little as the other. He is just — 
as CoUenuccio wrote to Ercole d'Este — " great of 
spirit and of ambition, athirst for eminence and fame." 
He was consumed by the desire for power and worldly 
greatness, a colossus of egotism to whom men and 
women were pieces to be handled by him on the^ 
chess-board of his ambition, to be sacrificed ruth- 
lessly where necessary to his ends, but to be husbanded 
and guarded carefully where they could serve him. 

With his eyes upon the career of Cesare Borgia, 
Macchiavelli was anon to write of principalities 


newly-acquired, that " however great may be the 
military resources of a prince, he will discover that, to 
obtain firm footing in a province, he must engage the 
favour and interest of the inhabitants." 

That was a principle self-evident to Cesare — the 
principle upon which he acted throughout in his 
conquest of the Romagna. By causing his new sub- 
jects to realize at once that they had exchanged an 
oppressive for a generous rule, he attached them to 



The second campaign of the Romagna had opened 
for Cesare as easily as had the first. So far his conquest 
had been achieved by little more than a processional 
display of his armed legions. Like another Joshua, 
he reduced cities by the mere blare of his trumpets^. 
At last, however, he was to receive a check. Where 
grown men had fled cravenly at his approach, it re- 
mained for a child to resist him at Faenza, as a woman 
had resisted him at Forli. 

His progress north from Pesaro was of necessity 
slow. He paused, as we have seen, at Rimini, and he 
paused again, and for a rather longer spell, at Forli, 
so that it was not until the second week of November 
that Astorre Manfredi — the boy of sixteen who was 
to hold Faenza — caught in the distance the flash of 
arms and the banners with the bull device borne by 
the host which the Duke of Valentinois led against 

At first it had been Astorre's intent to follow the 
examples set him by Malatesta and Sforza, and he had 
already gone so far as to remove his valuables to 
Ravenna, whither he, too, meant to seek refuge. 
But he was in better case than any of the tyrants 
so far deposed inasmuch as his family, which had ruled 
Faenza for two hundred years, had not provoked the 
hatred of its subjects, and these were now ready and 
willing to stand loyally by their young lord. But 
loyalty alone can do little, unless backed by the might 



of arms, against such a force as Cesare was prepared 
to hurl upon Faenza. This Astorre realized, and 
for his own and his subjects' sake was preparing to 
depart, when, to his undoing, support reached him 
from an unexpected quarter. 

Bologna — ^whose ruler, Giovanni Bentivogli, was 
Astorre's grandfather — in common with Florence 
and Urbino, grew daily more and more alarmed at 
the continual tramp of armed multitudes about her 
frontiers, and at the steady growth in numbers and 
in capacity of this splendid army which followed 
Cesare — an army captained by such enemies of the 
Bentivogli as the Baglioni, the Orsini, and the exiled 

Bentivogli had good grounds for his anxiety, not 
knowing how long he might depend upon the pro- 
tection of France, .and well aware that, once that 
protection was removed, there would be no barrier 
between Bologna and Cesare's manifest intentions 
concerning her. 

Next to Cesare's utter annihilation, to check his 
progress was the desire dearest just then to the heart 
of Bentivogli, and with this end in view he dispatched 
Count Guido Torella to Faenza, in mid-October, 
with an offer to assist Astorre with men and money. 

Astorre, who had succeeded Galeotto Manfredi 
in the tyranny of Faenza at the age of three, had been 
and still continued under the tutelage of the Council 
which really governed his territories. To this Council 
came Count Torella with Bentivogli's offer, adding 
the proposal that young Astorre should be sent to 
Venice for his personal safety. But to this the Council 
replied that it would be useless, if that course were 
adopted, to attempt resistance, as the people could 
only be urged to it by their affection for their young 
lord, and that, if he were removed from their midst, 
they would insist upon surrender. 

News of these negotiations reached Rome, and on 


October 24 Alexander sent Bentivogli his commands 
to refrain, under pain of excommunication, from in- 
terfering in the affairs of Faenza. Bentivogli made 
a feeble attempt to mask his disobedience. The 
troops with which he intended to assist his grandson 
were sent ostensibly to Castel Bolognese, but with 
instructions to desert thence and make for Faenza. 
This they did, and thus was Astorre strengthened by 
a thousand men, whilst the work of preparing his 
city for resistance went briskly forward. 

Meanwhile, ahead of Cesare Borgia, swept Vitellozzo 
Vitelli with his horse into Astorre's dominions. He 
descended upon the valley of the Lamone, and com- 
menced hostilities by the capture and occupation 
of Brisghella on November 7. The other lesser 
strongholds and townships offered no resistance to 
Cesare's arms. Indeed they were induced into ready 
rebellion against their lord by Dionigio di Naldo — 
the sometime defender of Imola, who had now taken 
service with Cesare. 

On November 10 Cesare himself halted his host 
beneath the walls of Faenza and called upon the town 
to surrender. Being denied, he encamped his army 
for the siege. He chose the eastern side of the town, 
between the rivers Lamone and Marzano, and, that 
his artillery might have free play, he caused several 
houses to be demolished. 

In Faenza itself, meanwhile, the easy conquest of 
the valley had not produced a good effect. More- 
over, the defenders had cause to fear treachery within 
their gates, for a paper had been picked up out of the 
moat containing an offer of terms of surrender. It 
had been shot into the castle attached to an arbalest- 
bolt, and was intended for the castellan Castagnini. 
This Castagnini was arrested, thrown into prison, 
and his possessions confiscated, whilst the Council 
placed the citadel in the hands of four of its own 
members together with Gianevangelista Manfredi — 


Astorre's half-brother, and a bastard of Galeotto's. 
These set about defending it against Cesare, who had 
now opened fire. The duke caused the guns to be 
trained upon a certain bastion through which he 
judged that a good assault might be delivered and an 
entrance gained. Night and day was the bombard- 
ment of that bastion kept up, yet without producing 
visible effect until the morning of the 20th, when 
suddenly one of its towers collapsed thunderously 
into the moat. 

Instantly, and without orders, the soldiers, all eager 
to be among the first to enter, flung themselves for- 
ward in utter and fierce disorder to storm the breach. 
Cesare, at breakfast — as he himself wrote to the Duke 
of Urbino — sprang up at the great noise, and, sur- 
mising what was taking place, dashed out to restrain 
his men. But the task was no easy one, for, gathering 
excitement and the frenzy of combat as they ran, 
they had already gained the edge of the ditch, and 
thither Cesare was forced to follow them, using voice 
and hands to beat back again. 

At last he succeeded in regaining control of them, 
and in compelling them to make an orderly retreat, 
and curb their impatience until the time for storming 
should have come, which was not yet. In the affair 
Cesare had a narrow escape from a stone-shot fired 
from the castle, whilst one of his officers — Onorio 
Savelli — was killed by a cannon-ball from the duke's 
own guns, whose men, unaware of what was taking 
place, were continuing the bombardment. 

Hitherto the army had been forced to endure foul 
weather — rain, fogs, and wind ; but there was worse 
to come. Snow began to fall on the morning of the 
22nd. It grew to a storm, and the blizzard continued 
all that day, which was a Sunday, all night, and all the 
following day, and lashed the men pitilessly and blind- 
ingly. The army, already reduced by shortness of 
victuals, was now in a miserable plight in its unshel- 



tered camp, and the defenders of Faenza, as if realizing 
this, made a sortie on the 23rd, from which a fierce 
fight ensued, with severe loss to both sides. On the 
25th the snow began again, whereupon the hitherto 
unconquerable Cesare, defeated at last by the elements 
and seeing that his men could not possibly continue 
to endure the situation, was compelled to strike camp 
on the 26th and go into winter quarters, no doubt 
with immense chagrin at leaving so much work un- 

So he converted the siege into a blockade, closing 
all roads that lead to Faenza, with a view to shutting 
out supplies from the town ; and he distributed troops 
throughout the villages of the territory with orders 
constantly to harass the garrison and allow it no rest. 
He also sent an envoy with an offer of terms of 
surrender, but the Council rejected it with the proud 
answer that its members " had agreed, in general as- 
sembly, to defend the dominions of Manfredi to the 

Thereupon Cesare withdrew to Forli with 150 
lances and 2,500 foot, and here he affords a proof of 
his considerateness. The town had already endured 
several occupations and the severities of being the 
seat of war during the siege of the citadel. Cesare 
was determined that it should feel the present occupa- 
tion as little as possible ; so he issued an order to the 
inhabitants upon whom his soldiers were billeted 
l to supply the men only with bed, light, and fire. 
I What more they required must be paid for, and, to 
I avoid disputes as to prices of victuals and other neces- 
i saries, he ordered the Council to draw up a tariff, 
\ and issued an edict forbidding his soldiers, under pain 
I of death, from touching any property of the towns- 
\ folk. Lest they should doubt his earnestness, he hanged 
\two of his soldiers on December 7 — a Piedmontese 
^and a Gascon — and on the 13th a third, all from the 
windows of his own palace, and all with a label hanging 


from their feet proclaiming that they had been hanged 
for taking goods of others in spite of the ban of the 
Lord Duke, etc. 

He remained in Forli until the 23rd, when he 
departed to Cesena, which was really his capital in 
Romagna, and in the huge citadel of which there was 
ample accommodation for the troops that accom- 
panied him. In Forli he left, as his lieutenants, the 
Bishop of Trani and Don Michele da .Corella — the 
"Michieli" of Capello's Relation and the "Michelotto" 
of so many Borgia fables. That this officer ruled the 
soldiers left with him in Forli in accordance with 
the stern example set him by his master we know 
from the chronicles of Bernardi. 

In Cesena the duke occupied the splendid palace 
of Mala testa Novello, which had been magnificently 
equipped for him, and there, on Christmas Eve, he 
entertained the Council of the town and other im- 
portant citizens to a banquet worthy of the repu- 
tation for lavishness which he enjoyed. He was very 
different in this from his father, whose table habits 
were of the most sparing — to which, no doubt, his 
Holiness owed the wonderful, almost youthful vigour 
which he still enjoyed in this his seventieth year. 
It was notorious that ambassadors cared little for^ 
invitations to the Pope's table, where the meal never 
consisted of more than one dish. 

On Christmas Day the duke attended Mass at the 
Church of San Giovanni Evangelista with great pomp, 
arrayed in the ducal chlamys and followed by his 
gentlemen. With these young patricians Cesare made 
merry during the days that followed. The time 
was spent in games and joustings, in all of which the 
duke showed himself freely, making display of his 
physical perfections, fully aware, no doubt, of what a 
short cut these afforded him to the hearts of the people, 
ever ready to worship physical beauty, prowess, and 


Yet business was not altogether neglected, for on 
January 4 he went to Porto Cesenatico, and there 
published an edict against all who had practised 
with the fuorusciti from his States, forbidding 
the offence under pain of death and forfeiture of 

He remained in winter quarters until the following 
April, from which, however, it is not to be concluded 
that Faenza was allowed to be at peace for that 
spell. The orders which he had left behind him, 
that the town was constantly to be harassed, were 
by no means neglected. On the night of January 
21, by arrangement with some of the inhabitants 
of the beleaguered city, the foot surrounding Faenza 
attempted to surprise the garrison by a secret esca- 
lade. They were, however, discovered betimes in the 
attempt and repulsed, some who had the mischance 
— as it happened — to gain the battlements before the 
alarm was raised being taken and hanged. The 
duke's troops, however, consoled themselves by cap- 
turing Russi and Solarolo, the last two strongholds 
in the valley that had held for Astorre. 

Meanwhile, Cesare and his merry young patricians 
spent the time as agreeably as might be in Cesena 
during that carnival. The author of the Diario 
Cesenate is moved by the duke's pastimes to criticize 
him severely as indulging in amusements unbecoming 
the dignity of his station. He is particularly shocked 
to know that the duke should have gone forth in 
disguise with a few companions to repair to carnival 
festivities in the surrounding villages and there to 
wrestle with the rustics. It is not difficult to 
imagine the discomfiture suffered by many a village 
Hercules at the hands of this lithe young man, who 
could behead a bull at a single stroke of a spadoon 
and break a horseshoe in his fingers. The diary in 
question, you will have gathered, is that of a pedant, 
prim and easily scandalized. So much being obvious, 


it is noteworthy that Cesare's conduct should have 
afforded him no subject for graver strictures than 
these, Cesare being such a man as has been represented, 
and the time being that of carnival when licence 
was allowed full play. 

The Pope accounted that the check endured by 
Cesare before Faenza was due not so much to the foul 
weather by which his army had been beset as to the 
assistance which Giovanni Bentivogli had rendered 
his grandson Astorre, and bitter were the com- 
plaints of it which he addressed to the King of France. 
Alarmed by this, and fearing that he might have com- 
promised himself and jeopardized the French protec- 
tion by his action in the matter, Bentivogli made haste 
to recall his troops, and did in fact withdraw them from 
Faenza early in December, shortly after Cesare had 
gone into winter quarters. Nevertheless, the Pope's 
complaints continued, Alexander in his secret, crafty 
heart no doubt rejoicing that Bentivogli should 
have afforded him so sound a grievance. As Louis XII 
desired, for several reasons, to stand well with Rome, 
he sent an embassy to Bentivogli to express his regret 
and censure of the latter's intervention in the affairs 
of Faenza. He informed Bentivogli that the Pope 
was demanding the return of Bologna to the States 
of the Church, and, without expressing himself 
clearly as to his own view of the matter, he advised 
Bentivogli to refrain from alliances with the enemies 
of the Holy See and to secure Bologna to himself by 
some sound arrangement. This showed Bentivogli in 
what danger he stood, and his uneasiness was increased 
by the arrival at Modena of Yves d'Allegre, sent by 
the King of France with a condotta of 500 horse for 
purposes which were not avowed but which Bentivogli 
sorely feared might prove to be hostile to himself. 

At the beginning of February Cesare moved his 
quarters from Cesena to Imola, and thence he sent his 
envoys to demand winter quarters for his troops in 


Castel Bolognese. This flung Bentivogli into posi- 
tive terror, as he interpreted the request as a threat 
of invasion. Castel Bolognese was too valuable a 
stronghold to be so lightly placed in the duke's hands. 
Thence Bentivogli might, in case of need, hold the 
duke in check, the fortress commanding, as it did, 
the road from Imola to Faenza. He had the good 
sense, however, to compromise the matter hy returning 
Cesare an offer of accommodation for his men with 
victuals, artillery, etc., but without the concession 
of Castel Bolognese. With this Cesare was forced to 
be content, there being no reasonable grounds upon 
which he could decline so generous an offer. It was a 
cunning concession on Bentivogli's part, for, without 
strengthening the duke's position, it yet gave the latter 
what he ostensibly required, and left no cause for 
grievance and no grounds upon which to molest 
Bologna. So much was this the case that on Febru- 
ary 26 the Pope wrote to Bentivogli expressing his 
thanks at the assistance which he had thus given Cesare 
in the Faenza emprise. 

It was during this sojourn of Cesare's at Imola 
that the abduction took place of Dorotea Caracciolo, 
the young wife of Gianbattista Caracciolo, a captain 
of foot in the Venetian service. The lady, who was 
attached to the Duchess of Urbino, had been residing 
at the latter's Court, and in the previous December 
Caracciolo had begged leave of the Council of Ten 
that he might himself go to Urbino for the purpose 
of escorting her to Venice. The Council, however, 
had replied that he should send for her, and this the 
captain had done. Near Cervia, on the confines of 
the Venetian territory, towards evening of Febru- 
ary 14, the lady's escort was set upon by ten well- 
armed men, and rudely handled by them, some being 
wounded and one at least killed, whilst the lady and 
^ woman who was with her were carried off. 


The Podesta of Cervia reported to the Venetian 
Senate that the abductors were Spaniards of the army 
of the Duke of Valentinois, and it was feared in Venice 
— according to Sanuto — that the deed might be the 
work of Cesare. 

The matter contained in that Relation of Capello's 
to the Senate must by now have been widespread, 
and of a man who could perpetrate the wickednesses 
therein divulged anything could be believed. In- 
deed, it seems to have followed that, where any act of 
wickedness was brought to light, at once men looked 
to see if Cesare might not be responsible, nor looked 
close enough to make quite sure. To no other cause 
can it be assigned that, in the stir which the Senate 
made, the name of Cesare was at once suggested as 
that of the abductor, and this so broadly that letters 
poured in upon him on all sides begging him to right 
this cruel wrong. So much do you see assumed, upon 
no more evidence than was contained in that letter 
from the Podestd of Cervia, which went no further than 
to say that the abductors were " Spaniards of the Duke 
of Valentinois' army." The envoy Manenti was dis- 
patched at once to Cesare by the Senate, and he 
went persuaded, it is clear, that Cesare Borgia was 
the guilty person. He enlisted the support of 
Monsieur de Trans (the French ambassador then on 
his way to Rome) and that of Yves d'Allegre, and 
he took them with him to the Duke at Imola. 

There, acting upon his strong suspicions, Manenti 
appears to have taken a high tone, representing to the 
duke that he had done an unworthy thing, and 
imploring him to restore the lady to her husband. 
Cesare's patience under the insolent assumption in 
justification of which Manenti had not a single grain 
of evidence to advance, is — guilty or innocent — 
a rare instance of self-control. He condescended to 
take oath that he had not done this thing which they 
imputed to him. He admitted that he had heard 


of the outrage, and he expressed the belief that it 
was the work of one Diego Ramires — a captain of 
foot in his service. This Ramires, he explained, had 
been in the employ of the Duke of Urbino, and in 
Urbino had made the acquaintance and fallen ena- 
moured of the lady ; and he added that the fellow 
had lately disappeared, but that already he had set on 
foot a search for him, and that, once taken, he would 
make an example of him. 

In conclusion he begged that the Republic should 
not believe thJkthing against him, assuring the envoy 
that he had nor found the ladies of the Romagna so 
difficult that he should be driven to employ such rude 
and violent measures. 

The French ambassador certainly appears to have 
attached implicit faith to Cesare's statement, and he 
privately informed Manenti that Ramires was believed 
to be at Medola, and that the Republic might rest 
assured that, if Jie were taken, exemplary justice would 
be done. 

All this you will find recorded in Sanuto. After 
that his diary entertains us with rumours which were 
reaching Venice, now that the deed was the duke's, 
now that the lady was with Ramires. Later the two 
rumours are consolidated into one, in a report of the 
Podest£ of Cervia to the effect that " the lady is in the 
Castle of Forli with Ramires, and that he took her 
there by order of the duke." The Podestii says that 
a man whom he sent to gather news had this story 
from one Benfaremo. But he omits to say who and 
what is this Benfaremo, and what the source of his 

Matters remaining thus, and the affair appearing 
in danger of being forgotten, Caracciolo goes before 
the Senate on March i6 and implores permission 
to deal with it himself. This permission is denied 
him, the Doge conceiving that the matter will 
best be dealt with by the Senate, and Caracciolo is 


ordered back to his post at Gradisca. Thence he 
writes to the Senate on March 30 that he is certain 
his wife is in the citadel of Forli. 

After this Sanuto does not mention the matter 
again until December of 1503 — nearly three years 
later — when we gather that, under pressure of constant 
letters from the husband, the Venetian ambassador 
at the Vatican makes so vigorous a stir that the lady 
is at last delivered up, and goes for the time being 
into a convent. But we are not told where or how 
she is found, nor where the conv^Jf^ in which she 
seeks shelter. That is Sanuto's .first important 

And now an odd light is thrown suddenly upon 
the whole affair, and it begins to-^ook as if the lady had 
been no unwilling victim of an abduction, but, rather, 
a party to an elopement. She displays a positive 
reluctance to return to her husband ; she is afraid 
to do so — " in fear for her very life*" — and she im- 
plores the Senate to obtain from Caracciolo some 
security for her, or else to grant her permission to 
withdraw permanently to a convent. 

The Senate summons the husband, and represents 
the case to him. He assures the Senate that he has 
forgiven his wife, believing her to be innocent. This, 
however, does not suffice to allay her uneasiness — or 
her reluctance — for on January 4, 1504, Sanuto tells 
us that the Senate has received a letter of thanks from 
her in which she relates her misfortunes, and in which 
again she begs that her husband be compelled to pledge 
security to treat her well (" darli buona vita ") or else 
that she should be allowed to return to her mother. 
Of the nature of the misfortunes which he tells us she 
related in her letter, Sanuto says nothing. That is his 
second important omission. 

The last mention of the subject in Sanuto relates 
to her restoration to her husband. He tells us that 
Caracciolo received her with great joy ; but he is 


silent on the score of the lady's emotions on that 

There you have all that is known of Dorotea Carac- 
ciolo's abduction, which later writers — including 
Bembo in his Historic — ^have positively assigned to 
Cesare Borgia, drawing upon their imagination to 
fill up the lacunae in the story so as to support their 
point of view. 

Those lacunce^ however, are invested with a certain 
eloquence which it is well not to disregard. Ad- 
mitting that the construing of silence into evidence 
is a dangerous course, all fraught with pitfalls, yet it 
seems permissible to pose the following questions : 

If the revelation of the circumstances under which 
she was found, the revelations contained in her letter 
to the Senate, and the revelations which one imagines 
must have followed her return to her husband, con- 
firm past rumours and convict Cesare of the outrage, 
how does it happen that Sanuto — who has never failed 
to record anything that could tell against Cesare — 
should be silent on the matter ? And how does it 
happen that so many pens that busied themselves 
greedily with scandal that touched the Borgias should 
be similarly silent ? Is it unreasonable to infer 
that those revelations did not incriminate him — that 
they gave the lie to all the rumours that had 
been current ? If that is not the inference, then 
what is ? 

It is further noteworthy that on January i6 — after 
Dorotea's letter to the Senate giving the details of her 
misfortunes, which details Sanuto has suppressed — 
Diego Ramires, the real and known abductor, is still 
the object of a hunt set afoot by some Venetians. 
Would that be the case had her revelations shown 
Ramires to be no more than the duke's instrument ? 
Possibly ; but not probably. In such a case he would 
not have been worth the trouble of pursuing. 

Reasonably may it be objected: How, if Cesare was 


not guilty, does it happen that he did not carry out his 
threat of doing» exemplary justice upon Ramires when 
taken — since Ramires obviously lay in his power for 
years after the event ? The answer to that you will 
find in the lady's reluctance to return to Caracciolo, 
and the tale it tells. It is not in the least illogical to 
assume that, when Cesare threatened that vengeance 
upon Ramires for the outrage which it was alleged 
had been committed, he fully intended to execute 
it ; but that, upon taking Ramires, and upon dis- 
covering that here was no such outrage as had been 
represented, but just the elopement of a couple of 
lovers, he found there was nothing for him to avenge. 
Was it for Cesare Borgia to set up as a protector and 
avenger of cuckolds ? Rather would it be in keeping 
with the feelings of his age and race to befriend the 
fugitive pair who had planted the antlers upon the 
brow of the Venetian captain. 

Lastly, Cesare's attitude towards women may be 
worth considering, that we may judge whether such 
an act as was imputed to him is consistent with it. 
Women play no part whatever in his history. Not 
once shall you find a woman's influence swaying him ; 
not once shall you see him permitting dalliance to re- 
tard his advancement or jeopardize his chances. With 
him, as with egotists of his type, governed by cold will 
and cold intellect, the sentimental side of the relation 
of the sexes has no place. With him one woman was as 
another woman ; as he craved women, so he took 
women, but with an almost contemptuous undis- 
crimination. For all his needs concerning them the 
Iwpanaria sufficed. 

Is this mere speculation, think you ? Is there no 
evidence to support it, do you say ? Consider, pray, 
in all its bearings the treatise on fudendagra dedicated 
to a man of Cesare Borgia's rank by the physician 
Torella, written to meet his needs, and see what 
inference you draw from that. Surely such an 


inference as will invest with the ring of truth — ex- 
pressing as it does his intimate nature, and confirming 
further what has here been said — that answer of his 
to the Venetian envoy, " that he had not found the 
ladies of Romagna so difficult that he should be driven 
to such rude and violent measures." 



On March 29 Cesare Borgia departed from Cesena — 
whither, meanwhile, he had returned — to march upon 
Faenza, resume the attack, and make an end of the 
city's stubborn resistance. 

During the past months, however, and notwith- 
standing the presence of the Borgia troops in the 
territory, the people of Faenza had been able to 
increase their fortifications by the erection of out- 
works and a stout bastion in the neighbourhood of the 
Osservanza Hospital, well beyond the walls. This 
bastion claimed Cesare's first attention, and it was 
carried by assault on April 12. Thither he now 
fetched his guns, mounted them, and proceeded to a 
steady bombardment of the citadel. But the re- 
sistance continued with unabated determination — a 
determination amounting to heroism, considering the 
hopelessness of their case and the straits to which the 
Faentini were reduced by now. Victuals and other 
necessaries of life had long since been running low. 
Still the men of Faenza tightened their belts, looked 
to their defences, and flung defiance at the Borgia. 
The wealthier inhabitants distributed wine and flour 
at prices purely nominal, and lent Astorre money for 
the payment of his troops. It is written that to the 
same end the very priests, their patriotism surmount- 
ing their duty to the Holy Father in whose name this 
war was waged, consented to the despoiling of the 
churches and the melting down of the sacred vessels. 



Even the women of Faenza bore their share of the 
burden of defence, carrying to the ramparts the heavy 
stones that were to be hurled down upon the be- 
siegers, or actually donning casque and body-armour 
and doing sentry duty on the walls while the men 

But the end was approaching. On April i8 the 
Borgia cannon opened at last a breach in the walls, 
and Cesare delivered a terrible assault upon the 
citadel. The fight upon the smoking ruins was fierce 
and determined on both sides, the duke's men pressing 
forward gallantly under showers of scalding pitch and 
a storm of boulders, launched upon them by the 
defenders, who used the very ruins of the wall for 
ammunition. For four hours was that assault main- 
tained ; nor did it cease until the deepening dusk 
compelled Cesare to order the retreat, since to con- 
tinue in the failing light was but to sacrifice men to 
no purpose. 

Cesare's appreciation of the valour of the garrison ran 
high. It inspired him with a respect which shows 
his dispassionate breadth of mind, and he is reported 
to have declared that with an army of such men as 
those who held Faenza against him he would have 
conquered all Italy. He did not attempt a second 
assault, but confined himself during the three days 
that followed to continuing the bombardment. 

Within Faenza men were by now in desperate 
case. Weariness and hunger were so exhausting 
their endurance, so sapping their high valour that 
nightly there were desertions to the duke's camp of 
men who could bear no more. The fugitives from 
the town were well received, all save one — a man 
named Grammante, a dyer by trade — who, in deserting 
to the duke, came in to inform him that at a certain 
point of the citadel the defences were so weak that 
^ an assault delivered there could not fail to carry it. 

This man afforded Cesare an opportunity of marking 


his contempt for traitors and his respect for the 
gallant defenders of Faenza. The duke hanged him 
for his pains under the very walls of the town he had 

On the 2 1st the bombardment was kept up almost 
without interruption for eight hours, and so shattered 
was the citadel by that pitiless cannonade that the end 
was in sight at last. But the duke's satisfaction was 
tempered by his chagrin at the loss of Achille Tiberti, 
one of the most valiant of his captains, and one who 
had followed his fortunes from the first with con- 
spicuous devotion. He was killed by the bursting of 
a gun. A great funeral at Cesena bore witness to the 
extent to which Cesare esteemed and honoured him. 

Astorre, now seeing the citadel in ruins and the 
possibility of further resistance utterly exhausted, 
assembled the Council of Faenza to determine upon 
their course of action, and, as a result of their delibera- 
tions, the young tyrant sent his ambassadors to the 
duke to propose terms of surrender. It was a be- 
lated proposal, for there was no longer on Cesare's 
part the necessity to make terms. The city's de- 
fences were destroyed, and to talk of surrender now 
was to talk of giving something that no longer existed. 
Yet Cesare met the ambassadors in a spirit of splendid 

The terms proposed were that the people of Faenza 
should have immunity for themselves and their 
property ; that Astorre should have freedom to 
depart and to take with him his moveable possessions, 
his immoveables remaining at the mercy of the Pope. 
By all the laws of war Cesare was entitled to a heavy 
indemnity for the losses he had sustained through 
the resistance opposed to him. Considering those 
same laws and the application they were wont to 
receive in his day, no one could have censured him had 
he rejected all terms and given the city over to pillage. 
Yet not only does he grant the terms submitted to 


him, but in addition he actually lends an ear to the 
Council's prayer that out of consideration for the great 
suffering of the city in the siege he should refrain from 
exacting any indemnity. This was to be forbearing 
indeed ; but he was to carry his forbearance even 
further. In answer to the Council's expressed fears 
of further harm at the hands of his troopers once these 
should be in Faenza, he actually consented to effect 
no entrance into the town. 

We are not for a moment to consider Cesare as 
actuated in all this by any lofty humanitarianism. 
I He was simply pursuing that wise policy of his, in 
j refraining from punishing conquered States which 
were to be subject henceforth to his rule, and which, 
therefore, must be conciliated that they might be 
loyal to him. But it is well that you should at least 
appreciate this policy and the fruit it bore when 
you read that Cesare Borgia was a blood-glutted 
monster of carnage who ravaged the Romagna, rending 
and devouring it like some beast of prey. 

On the 26th the Council waited upon Cesare at 
the Hospital of the Osservanza — where he was lodged 
— to tender the oath of fealty. That same evening 
Astorre himself, attended by a few of his gentlemen, 
came to the duke. 

To this rather sickly and melancholy lad, who had 
behind him a terrible family history of violence, and 
to his bastard brother, Gianevangelista, the duke 
accorded the most gracious welcome. Indeed, so 
amiable did Astorre find the duke that, although the 
terms of surrender afforded him perfect liberty to go 
whither he listed, he chose to accept the invitation 
Cesare extended to him to remain in the duke's train. 

It is eminently probable, however, that the duke's 
object in keeping the young man about him was 
prompted by another phase of that policy of his 
which Macchiavelli was later to formulate into rules 
of conduct, expedient in a prince : 

(From the portrait by I^eonardo Scaletti.) 

Alinari photo. 



" In order to preserve a newly acquired State par- 
ticular attention should be given to two points. In the 
first place care should be taken entirely to extinguish 
the family of the ancient sovereign ; in the second,^ 
laws should not be changed, nor taxes increased." 

Thus Macchiavelli. The second point is all that 
is excellent ; the first is all that is wise — cold, horrible, 
and revolting though it be to our twentieth-century 

Cesare Borgia, as a matter of fact, hardly went so 
far as Macchiavelli advises. He practised discrimina- 
tion. He did not, for instance, seek the lives of Pan- 
dolfaccio Malatesta, or of Caterina Sforza-Riario. He 
saw no danger in their living, no future trouble toy 
apprehend from them. The hatred borne them by/ 
their subjects was to Cesare a sufficient guarantee 
that they would not be likely to attempt a return to 
their dominions, and so he permitted them to keep 
their lives. But to have allowed Astorre Manfredi, 
or even his bastard brother, to live would have been 
bad policy from the appallingly egotistical point of 
view which was Cesare's — a point of view, remember, 
which receives Macchiavelli's horribly intellectual, 
utterly unsentimental, revoltingly practical approval. 

So — to anticipate a little — we see Cesare taking 
Astorre and Gianevangelista Manfredi to Rome when 
he returned thither in the following June. A fort- 
night later — on June 26 — the formidable amazon of 
Forli, the Countes^s Sforza-Riario, was liberated, as 
we know, from the Castle of Sant' Angelo, and per- 
mitted to withdraw to Florence. But the gates of 
that grim fortress, in opening to allow her to pass out, 
opened also for the purpose of admitting Astorre and 
Gianevangelista, upon whom they closed. 

All that is known positively of the fate of these 
unfortunate young men is that they never came forth 
again alive. 

The record in Burchard (June 9, 1502) of Astorrc's 



body having been found in the Tiber with a stone 
round his neck, suffers in probability from the addition 
that, " together with it were found the bodies of two 
young men with their arms tied, a certain woman, 
and many others^ 

The dispatch of Giustiniani to the effect that : 
" It is said that this night were thrown into Tiber 
and drowned the two lords of Faenza together with 
their seneschal," was never followed up by any other 
dispatch confirming the rumour, nor is it confirmed 
by any dispatch so far discovered from any other 
ambassador, nor yet does the matter find place in the 
Chronicles of Faenza. 

But that is of secondary importance. The ugliest 
feature of the case is not the actual assassination of 
the young men, but the fact that Cesare had pledged 
himself that Astorre should go free, and yet had kept 
him by him — at first, it would seem, in his train, and 
later as a prisoner — until he put an end to his life. 
It was an ugly, unscrupulous deed ; but there is no 
need to exaggerate its heinousness,as is constantly done, 
upon no better authority than Guicciardini's, who 
wrote that the murder had been committed " saziata 
prima la libidine di qualcuno." 

Of all the unspeakable calumnies of which the 
Borgias have been the subject, none is more utterly 
wanton than this foul exhalation of Guicciardini's 
lewd invention. Let the shame that must eternally 
attach to him for it brand also those subsequent 
writers who repeated and retailed that abominable 
and utterly unsupported accusation, and more particu- 
larly those who have not hesitated to assume that 
Guicciardini's " qualcuno " was an old man in his 
seventy-second year — Pope Alexander VL 

Others a little more merciful, a little more careful 
of physical possibilities (but no whit less salacious) have 
taken it that Cesare was intended by the Florentine 


But, under one form or another, the lie has spread 
as only such foulness can spread. It has become 
woven into the warp of history ; it has grown to be one 
of those " facts " which are unquestioningly accepted, 
but it stands upon no better foundation than the 
frequent repetition which a charge so monstrous 
could not escape. Its source is not a contemporary 
one. It is first mentioned by Guicciardini ; and there 
is no logical conclusion to be formed other than that 
Guicciardini invented it. Another story which owes 
its existence mainly, and its particulars almost entirely, 
to Guicciardini's libellous pen — the story of the death 
of Alexander VI, which in its place shall be examined 
— provoked the righteous anger of Voltaire. Atheist 
and violent anti-clerical though he was, the story's 
obvious falseness so revolted him that he penned his 
formidable indictment in which he branded Guicciar- 
dini as a liar who had deceived posterity that he might 
vent his hatred of the Borgias. Better cause still was 
there in this matter of Astorre Manfredi for Voltaire's 
indignation, as there is for the indignation of all con- 
scientious seekers after truth. 



To return to the surrender of Faenza on April 26, 
1 501, we see Cesare on the morrow of that event, 
striking camp with such amazing suddenness that he 
does not even pause to provide for the government 
of the conquered tyranny, but appoints a vicar four 
days later to attend to it. 

He makes his abrupt departure from Faenza, and 
is off like a whirlwind to sweep unexpectedly into the 
Bolognese territory, and, by striking swiftly, to terrify 
Bentivogli into submission in the matter of Castel 

This fortress, standing in the duke's dominions, 
on the road between Faenza and Imola, must be a 
menace to him whilst in the hands of a power that 
might become actively hostile. 

Ahead of him Cesare sent an envoy to Bentivogli, 
to demand its surrender. 

The alarmed Lord of Bologna, having convened his 
Council (the Reggimento)^ replied that they must 
deliberate in the matter ; and two days later they 
dispatched their ambassador to lay before Cesare 
the fruits of these deliberations. They were to seek 
the duke at Imola ; but they got no farther than 
Castel S. Pietro, which to their dismay they found 
already in the hands of Vitellozzo Vitelli's men-at- 
arms. For, what time Bentivogli had been deliber- 
ating, Cesare Borgia had been acting with that prompt- 
ness which was one of his most salient characteristics, 



and, in addition to Castel S. Pietro he had already- 
captured Casalfiuminense, Castel Guelfo, and Mede- 
cina, which were now invested by his troops. 

When the alarming news of this swift action reached 
Bologna it caused Bentivogli to bethink him at last 
of Louis XIFs advice, that he should come to terms 
with Cesare Borgia, and he realized that the time to 
do so could no longer be put off. He made haste, 
therefore, to agree to the surrender of Castel Bolognese 
to the duke, to concede him stipend for one hundred 
lances of three men each, and to enter into an under- 
taking to lend him every assistance for one year against 
any power with which he might be at war, the King 
of France excepted. In return, Cesare was to re- 
linquish the captured strongholds and undertake that 
the Pope should confirm Bentivogli in his ancient 
privileges. On April 29 Paolo Orsini went as Cesare's 
plenipotentiary to Bologna to sign this treaty. 

It was a crafty arrangement on Bentivogli's part, 
for, over and above the pacification of Cesare and the 
advantage of an alliance with him, he gained as a 
result the alliance also of those famous condottieri 
Vitelli and Orsini, both bitter enemies of Florence 
— the latter intent upon the restoration of the Medici, 
the former impatient to avenge upon the Signory 
the execution of his brother Paolo. As an instalment, 
on account of that debt, Vitelli had already put to 
death Pietro da Marciano — the brother of Count 
Rinuccio da Marciano — when this gentleman fell into 
his hands at Medicina. 

Two days before the treaty was signed, Bentivogli 
had seized four members of the powerful House of 
Marescotti. This family was related to the exiled 
Malvezzi, who were in arms with Cesare, and Benti- 
vogli feared that communications might be passing 
between the two to his undoing. On that suspicion 
he kept them prisoners for the present, nor did he 
release them when the treaty was signed, nor yet 


when, amid public rejoicings expressing the relief of 
the Bolognese, it was published on May 2. 

Hermes Bentivogli — Giovanni's youngest son — was 
on guard at the palace with several other young 
Bolognese patricians, and he incited these to go with 
him to make an end of the traitors who had sought 
to destroy the peace by their alleged plottings with 
Bentivogli's enemies in Cesare's camp. He led his 
companions to the chamber where the Marescotti 
were confined, and there, more or less in cold blood, 
those four gentlemen were murdered for no better 
reason — ostensibly — than because it was suspected they 
had been in communication with their relatives in 
the Duke of Valentinois's army. That was the way 
of the Cinquecento, which appears to have held few 
things of less account than human life. 

In passing, it may be mentioned that Guicciardini, 
of course, does his ludicrous best to make this murder 
appear — at least indirectly, since directly it would be 
impossible — the work of Cesar e Borgia. 

As for Castel Bolognese itself, Cesare Borgia sent 
a thousand demolishers in the following July to raze 
it to the ground. It is said to have been the most 
beautiful castle in the Romagna ; but Cesare had other 
qualities than beauty to consider in the matter of a 
stronghold. Its commanding position rendered it 
almost in the nature of a gateway controlling, as we 
know, the road from Faenza to Imola, and its occu- 
pation by the Bolognese or other enemies in time of 
disturbance might be of serious consequence to Cesare. 
Therefore he ruthlessly ordered Ramiro de Lorqua 
to set about its demolition. 

The Council of Castel Bolognese made great 
protest, and implored Ramiro to stay his hand until 
they should have communicated with the duke 
petitioning for the castle's preservation ; but Ramiro 
— a hard, stern man, and Cesare's most active officer 
ixx the Romagna — tojd them bluntly that to petition 


the duke in such a matter would be no better than 
a waste of time. He was no more than right ; for 
Cesare, being resolved upon the expediency of the 
castle's destruction, would hardly be likely to listen 
to sentimental reasonings for its preservation. Con- 
fident of this, Ramiro without more ado set about 
the execution of the orders he had received. He 
pulled down the walls and filled up the moat, until 
nothing remained so much as to show the place where 
the fortress had stood. 

Another fortress which shared the fate of Castel 
Bolognese was the Castle of Sant' Arcangelo, and 
similarly would Cesare have disposed of Solarolo, but 
that, being of lesser importance and the inhabitants 
offering, in their petition for its preservation, to under- 
take, themselves, the payment of the Castellan, he 
allowed it to remain. 

Scarcely was the treaty with Bologna signed than 
Cesare received letters from the Pope recalling him 
to Rome, and recommending that he should not 
molest the Florentines in his passage — a recommenda- 
tion which Alexander deemed very necessary con- 
sidering the disposition towards Florence of Vitelli 
and Orsini. He foresaw that they would employ 
arguments to induce Valentinois into an enterprise 
of which all the cost would be his, and all the possible 
profit their own. 

The duke would certainly have obeyed and avoided 
Tuscany, but that — precisely as the shrewd Pope 
had feared — Vitelli and Orsini implored him to march 
through Florentine territory. Vitelli, indeed, flung 
himself on his knees before Cesare in the vehemence 
of his supplications, urging that his only motive was 
to effect the deliverance from his unjust imprison- 
ment of Cerbone, who had been his executed brother's 
chancellor. Beyond that, he swore he would make 
tio dema^ds upon Florence, that he would not attempt 


to mix himself in the affairs of the Medici, and that 
he would do no violence to town or country. 

Thus implored, Cesare gave way. Probably he 
remembered the very circumstances under which 
Vitelli had joined his banner, and considered that 
he could not now oppose a request backed by a promise 
of so much moderation ; so on May 7 he sent his 
envoys to the Signory to crave leave of passage for 
his troops through Florentine territory. 

Whilst still in the Bolognese he was sought out by 
Giuliano de' Medici, who begged to be allowed to 
accompany him, a request which Cesare instantly 
refused, as being contrary to that to which he had 
engaged himself, and he caused Giuliano to fall behind 
at Lojano. Nor would he so much as receive in 
audience Piero de' Medici, who likewise sought to 
join him in Siennese territory, as soon as he perceived 
what was toward. Yet, however much the duke 
protested that he had no intention to make any change 
in the State of Florence, there were few who believed 
him. Florence, weary and sorely reduced by the 
long struggle of the Pisan war, was an easy prey. 
Conscious of this, great was her anxiety and alarm 
at Cesare's request for passage. The Signory replied 
granting him the permission sought, but imposing 
the condition that he should keep to the country, 
refraining from entering any town, nor bring with him 
into Florentine territory Vitelli, Orsini, or any other 
enemy of the existing government. It happened, 
however, that when the Florentine ambassador reached 
him with this reply the duke was already over the 
frontier of Tuscany with the excluded condottieri in 
his train. 

It was incumbent upon him, as a consequence, to 
vindicate this high-handed anticipation of the un- 
qualified Florentine permission which had not arrived. 
So he declared that he had been offended last year 
by Florence in the matter of Forli, and again this year 


in the matter of Faenza, both of which cities he charged 
the Signory with having assisted to resist him, and 
he announced that, to justify his intentions so far as 
Florence was concerned, he would explain himself at 

There, on May 12, he gave audience to the ambas- 
sador. He declared to him that he desired a good 
understanding with Florence, and that she should offer 
no hindrance to the conquest of Piombino, upon which 
he was now bound ; adding that since he placed no 
trust in the present government, which already had 
broken faith with him, he would require some good 
security for the treaty to be made. Of reinstating 
the Medici he said nothing ; but he demanded that 
some satisfaction be given Vitelli and Orsini, and, to 
quicken Florence in coming to a decision, he pushed 
forward with his army as far as Forno dei Campi — 
almost under her very walls. 

The Republic was thrown into consternation. 
Instantly she got together what forces she disposed 
of, and proceeded to fling her artillery into the Arno, 
to the end that she should be constrained neither 
to refuse it to Cesare upon his demand, nor yet to 
deliver it. 

Macchiavelli censures the Signory's conduct of 
this affair as impolitic. He contends that the duke, 
being in great strength of arms, and Florence not 
armed at all, and therefore in no case to hinder his 
passage, it would have been wiser and the Signory 
would better have saved its face and dignity, had it 
accorded Cesare the permission to pass which he 
demanded, rather than have been subjected to behold 
him enforce that passage by weight of arms. But all 
that now concerned the Florentines was to be rid 
of an army whose presence in their territory was a 
constant menace. And to gain that end they were 
ready to give any undertakings, just as they were 
jresolved to fulfil none, 


Similarly, it chanced that Cesare was in no less a 
hurry to be gone ; for he had received another letter 
from the Pope commanding his withdrawal, and in 
addition, he was being plagued by Vitelli and Orsini — 
grown restive — with entreaties for permission to go into 
either Florence or Pistoja, where they did not lack 
for friends. To resist them Cesare had need of all 
the severity and resolution he could command ; 
and he even went so far as to back his refusal by a 
threat himself to take up arms against them if they 

On the 15th, at last, the treaty — which amounted 
to an offensive and defensive alliance — was signed. 
By the terms of this, Florence undertook to give 
Cesare a condotta of 300 lances for three years, to 
be used in Florentine service, with a stipend of 36,000 
ducats yearly. How much this really meant the duke 
was to discover two days later, when he sent to ask 
the Signory to lend him some cannon for the emprise 
against Piombino, and to pay him the first instalment 
of one quarter of the yearly stipend before he left 
Florentine territory. The Signory replied that, by 
the terms of the agreement, there was no obligation 
for the immediate payment of the instalment, whilst 
in the matter of the artillery they put him off from 
day to day, until Cesare understood that their only 
aim in signing the treaty had been the immediate 
one of being rid of his army. 

The risk Florence incurred in so playing fast-and- 
loose with such a man, particularly in a moment of 
such utter unfitness to resist him, is, notwithstanding 
the French protection enjoyed by the Signory, amazing 
in its reckless audacity. It was fortunate for Florence 
that the Pope's orders tied the duke's hands — and it 
may be that of this the Signory had knowledge, and 
that it was upon such knowledge, in conjunction with 
France's protection, that it was presuming. Cesare 
took the matter in the spirit of an excellent loser, 


Not a hint of his chagrin and resentment did he betray ; 
instead, he set about furnishing his needs elsewhere, 
sending Vitelli to Pisa with a request for artillery, 
a request to which Pisa very readily responded, as 
much on Vitelli's account as on the duke's. As for 
Florence, if Cesare Borgia could be terribly swift 
in punishing, he could also be formidably slow. If 
he could strike upon the instant where the opening for 
a blow appeared, he could also wait for months until 
the opening should be found. He waited now. 

It would be at about this time that young Loenardo 
da Vinci sought employment in Cesare Borgia's 
service. Leonardo had been in Milan until the 
summer of 1500, when he repaired to Florence in 
quest of better fortune ; but, finding little or no work 
to engage him there, he took the chance of the duke 
of Valentinois's passage to offer his service to one 
whose liberal patronage of the arts was become pro- 
verbial. Cesare took him into his employ as engineer 
and architect, leaving him in the Romagna for the 
present. Leonardo may have superintended the re- 
pairs of the Castle of Forli, whilst he certainly built 
the canal from Cesena to the Porto Cesenatico, 
before rejoining the duke in Rome. 

On May 25 Cesare moved by the way of the valley 
of Cecina to try conclusions with Giacomo d'Appiano, 
Tyrant of Piombino, who with some Genoese and 
some Florentine aid, was disposed to offer resistance 
to the duke. The first strategic movement in this 
affair must be the capture of the Isle of Elba, whence 
aid might reach Piombino on its promontory thrusting 
out into the sea. For this purpose the Pope sent 
from Civita Vecchia six galleys, three brigantines, 
and two galleons under the command of Lodovico 
Mosca, captain of the papal navy, whilst Cesare was 
further reinforced by some vessels sent him from Pisa 


together with eight pieces of cannon. With these 
he made an easy capture of Elba and Pianosa. That 
done, he proceeded to lay siege to Piombino, which, 
after making a gallant resistance enduring for two 
months, was finally pressed to capitulate. 

Long before that happened, however, Cesare had 
taken his departure Being awaited in Rome, he 
was unable to conduct the siege operations in person. 
So he quitted Piombino in June to join the French 
under d'Aubigny, bound at last upon the conquest 
of Naples, and claiming — as their treaty with him 
provided — Cesare's collaboration. 



Cesare arrived in Rome on June 13. There was none 
of the usual pomp on this occasion. He made his 
entrance quietly, attended only by a small body of 
men-at-arms, and he was followed, on the morrow, 
by Yves d'Allegre with the army — considerably re- 
duced by the detachments which had been left to 
garrison the Romagna, and to lay siege to Piombino. 

Repairing to his quarters in the Vatican, the duke 
remained so close there for the few weeks that he abode 
in Rome on this occasion ^ that, ^from now onward, 
it became a matter of the utmost difficulty to obtain 
audience from him. This may have been due to 
his habit of turning night into day and day into night, 
whether at work or at play, which in fact was the ex- 
cuse offered by the Pope to certain envoys sent to 
Cesare from Rimini, who were left to cool their heels 
about the Vatican ante-chambers for a fortnight 
without succeeding in obtaining an audience. 

Cesare Borgia was now Lord of Imola, Forli, Rimini, 
Faenza and Piombino, warranting his assumption of 
the inclusive title of Duke of Romagna which he had 
taken immediately after the fall of Faenza. {_,^-'-'^^ 

As his State grew, so naturally did the affairs of 
government ; and, during those four weeks in Rome, 
business claimed his attention and an enormous 
amount of it was dispatched. Chiefly was he engaged 
upon the administration of the affairs of Faenza, 

* "Mansit in Palatio secrete," says Burchard. 


which he had so hurriedly quitted. In this his 
shrewd policy of generosity is again apparent. As 
his representative and lieutenant he appointed a 
prominent citizen of Faenza named Pasi, one of the 
very members of that Council which had been engaged 
in defending the city and resisting Cesare. The 
duke gave it as his motive for the choice that the man 
was obviously worthy of trust in view of his fidelity 
to Astorre. 

And there you have not only the shrewdness of the 
man who knows how to choose his servants — which is 
one of the most important factors of success — but a 
breadth of mind very unusual indeed in the Cinque- 

In addition to the immunity from indemnity 
provided for by the terms of the city's capitulation, 
Cesare actually went so far as to grant the peasantry 
of the valley 2,000 ducats as compensation for damage 
done in the war. Further, he supported the inter- 
cessions of the Council to the Pope for the erection 
of a new convent to replace the one that had been 
destroyed in the bombardment. In giving his consent 
to this — in a brief dated July 12, 1501 — the Pope 
announces that he does so in response to the prayers 
of the Council and of the duke. 

Giovanni Vera, Cesare's erstwhile preceptor — and 
still affectionately accorded this title by the duke — 
was now Archbishop of Salerno, Cardinal of Santa 
Balbina, and papal legate in Macerata, and he was 
chosen by the Pope to go to Pesaro and Fano for the 
purpose of receiving the oath of fealty. With him 
Cesare sent, as his own personal representative, his 
secretary, Agabito Gherardi, who had been in his 
employ in that capacity since the duke's journey into 
France, and who was to follow his fortunes to the end. 

However the people of Fano may have refrained 
from offering themselves to the duke's dominion 
when, in the previous October, he had afforded them 


by his presence the opportunity of doing so, their 
conduct now hardly indicated that the earlier absten- 
tion had been born of reluctance, or else their minds 
had undergone, in the meanwhile, a considerable 
change. For, when they received the brief appointing 
him their lord, they celebrated the event by public 
rejoicings and illuminations ; whilst on July 21 the 
Council, representing the people, in the presence of 
Vera and Gherardi, took oath upon the Gospels of 
allegiance to Cesare and his descendants for ever. 

In the Consistory of June 25 of that year the French 
and Spanish ambassadors came formally to notify 
the Holy Father of the treaty of Granada, entered 
into in the previous November by Louis XII of the 
one part, and Ferdinand and Isabella of the other, 
concerning the conquest and division of the Kingdom 
of Naples. The rival claimants had come to a com- 
promise by virtue of which they were to undertake 
together the conquest and thereafter share the spoil 
— Naples and the Abruzzi going to France, and 
Calabria and Puglia to Spain. 

Alexander immediately published his Bull declaring 
Federigo of Naples deposed for disobedience to the 
Church, and for having called the Turk to his aid, 
either of which charges it would have taxed Alexander's 
ingenuity — vast though it was — convincingly to have 
established ; or, being established, to censure when 
all the facts were considered. The charges were no 
better than pretexts for the spoliation of the un- 
fortunate king who, in the matter of his daughter's 
alliance with Cesare, had conceived that he might flout 
the Borgias with impunity. 

On June 28 d'Aubigny left Rome with the French 
troops, accompanied by the bulk of the considerable 
army with which Cesare supported his French ally, 
besides 1,000 foot raised by the Pope and a condotta 
of 100 lances under Morgante Baglioni. As the troops 


defiled before the Castle of Sant'Angelo they received 
the apostolic benediction from the Pope, who stood 
on the lower ramparts of the fortress. 

Cesare himself cannot have followed to join the 
army until after July 10, for as late as that date there 
is an edict indited by him against all who should offer 
injury to his Romagna officers. At about the same 
time that he quitted Rome to ride after the French, 
Gonsalo de Cordoba landed a Spanish army in Calabria, 
and the days of the Aragon dominion in Naples were 

King Federigo prepared to face the foe. Whilst 
himself remaining in Naples with Prospero Colonna, 
he sent the bulk of his forces to Capua under Fabrizio 
Colonna and Count Rinuccio Marciano — the brother 
of that Marciano whom Vitelli had put to death in 

Ravaging the territory and forcing its strongholds 
as they came, the allies were under the walls of Capua 
within three weeks of setting out ; but on July 17, 
when within two miles of the town, they were met by 
six hundred lances under Colonna, who attempted 
to dispute their passage. It was Cesare Borgia himself 
who led the charge against them. Jean d'Auton — in 
his Chronicles of Louis XII — speaks in warm terms of 
the duke's valour and of the manner in which, by 
words and by example, he encouraged his followers to 
charge the Colonna forces, with such good effect that 
they utterly routed the Neapolitans, and drove them 
headlong back to the shelter of Capua's walls. 

The allies brought up their cannon, and opened the 
bombardment. This lasted incessantly from Jul y 1 7 — 
which was a Monday — until the following Friday, 
when two bastions were so shattered that the French 
were able to gain possession of them, putting to the 
sword some two hundred Neapolitan soldiers who had 
been left to defend those outworks. Thence ad- 
mittance to the town itself was gained four days later 


— on the 25 th — through a breach, according to some, 
through the treacherous opening of a gate, according 
to others. Through gate or breach the besiegers 
stormed to meet a fierce resistance, and the most 
horrible carnage followed. Back and back they 
drove the defenders, fighting their way through the 
streets and sparing none in the awful fury that beset 
them. The defence was shattered ; resistance was 
at an end ; yet still the bloody work went on. The 
combat had imperceptibly merged into a slaughter ; 
demoralized and panic-stricken in the reaction from 
their late gallantry, the soldiers of Naples flung down 
their weapons and fled, shrieking for quarter. But 
none was given. The invader butchered every human 
thing he came upon, indiscriminant of age or sex, 
and the blood of some four thousand victims flowed 
through the streets of Capua like water after a thunder- 
shower. That sack of Capua is one of the most horrid 
pages in the horrid history of sacks. You will find 
full details in d'Auton's chronicle, if you have a mind 
for such horrors. There is a brief summary of the 
event in Burchard's diary under date of July 26, 1501, 
which runs as follows : 

" At about the fourth hour last night the Pope 
had news of the capture of Capua by the Duke of 
Valentinois. The capture was due to the treason 
of one Fabrizio — a citizen of Capua — who secretly 
introduced the besiegers and was the first to be killed 
by them. After him the same fate was met by some 
three thousand foot and some two hundred horse- 
soldiers, by citizens, priests, conventuals of both sexes, 
even in the very churches and monasteries, and all the 
women taken were given in prey to the greatest 
cruelty. The total number of the slain is estimated 
at four thousand." 

D'Auton, too, bears witness to this wholesale viola- 
tion of the women, " which," he adds, " is the very 
worst of all war's excesses." He informs us further 



that " the foot-soldiers of the Duke of Valentinois 
acquitted themselves so well in this, that thirty of the 
most beautiful women went captive to Rome," a 
figure which is confirmed hy Burchard. 

What an opportunity was not this for Guicciardini 1 
" The foot-soldiers of the Duke of Valentinois acquitted 
I themselves so well in this, that thirty of the most beautiful 
women went captive to Rome.^^ 

Under his nimble, malicious, unscrupulous pen that 
statement is re-edited until not thirty but forty is 
the number of the captured victims taken to Rome, 
and not Valentinois's foot, but Valentinois himself the 
ravisher of the entire forty ! But hear the elegant 
Florentine's own words : 

" It was spread about [divulgossi^ " he writes, 
'* that, besides other wickednesses worthy of eternal 
infamy, many women who had taken refuge in a tower, 
and thus escaped the first fury of the assault, were 
found by the Duke of Valentinois, who, with the title 
of King's Lieutenant, followed the army with no more 
people than his gentlemen and his guards.^ He desired 
to see them all, and, after carefully examining them 
[consider atele diligentemente^ he retained forty of the 
most beautiful." 

Guicciardini's aim is, of course, to shock you ; he 
considers it necessary to maintain in Cesare the char- 
acter of ravenous wolf which he had bestowed upon 
him. The marvel is not that Guicciardini should have 
penned that utterly ludicrous accusation, but that 
more or less serious subsequent writers — and writers 
of our own time even — instead of being moved to 
contemptuous laughter at the wild foolishness of the 
story, instead of seeking in the available records the 
germ of true fact from which it was sprung, should 

* This, incidentally, is another misstatement. Valentinois had 
with him, besides the thousand foot levied by the Pope and the hundred 
lances under Morgante Baglioni, an army some thousands strong led 
for him by Yves d'Allegre. 


sedulously and unblushingly have carried forward its 

Yriarte not only repeats the tale with all the sober 
calm of one utterly destitute of a sense of the ridiculous, 
but he improves upon it by a delicious touch, worthy 
of Guicciardini himself, when he assures us that Cesare 
took these forty women for his harem I \ 

It is a nice instance of how Borgia history has grown, 
and is still growing. 

If verisimilitude itself does not repudiate Guicciar- 
dini's story, there are the Capuan chronicles to do 
it — particularly that of Pellegrini, who witnessed the 
pillage. In those chronicles from which Guicciardini 
drew the matter for this portion of his history of Italy, 
you will seek in vain for any confirmation of that 
fiction with which the Florentine historian — he who 
had a pen of gold for his friends and one of iron for his 
foes — thought well to adorn his facts. 

If the grotesque in history-building is of interest 
to you, you may turn the pages of the Storia Civile 
di Capua, by F. Granata, published in 1752. This 
writer has carefully followed the Capuan chroniclers in 
their relation of the siege ; but when it comes to these 
details of the forty ladies in the tower (in which those 
chroniclers fail him) he actually gives Guicciardini as 
his authority, setting a fashion which has not lacked for 
unconscious, and no less egregious, imitators. 

To return from the criticism of fiction to the 
consideration of fact, Fabrizio Colonna and Rinuccio 
da Marciano were among the many captains of the 
Neapolitan army that were taken prisoners. Rinuccio 
was the head of the Florentine faction which had 
caused the execution of Paolo Vitelli, and Giovio has 
it that Vitellozzo Vitelli, who had already taken an 
instalment of vengeance by putting Pietro da Marciano 
to death in Tuscany, caused Rinuccio's wounds to be 
poisoned, so that he died two days later. 

The fall of Capua was very shortly followed by that 


of Gaeta, and, within a week, by that of Naples, which 
was entered on August 3 by Cesare Borgia in command 
of the vanguard of the army. '' He who had come as 
a cardinal to crown King Federigo, came now as a 
condottiero to depose him." 

Federigo offered to surrender to the French all the 
fortresses that still held for him, on condition that he 
should have safe-conduct to Ischia and liberty to 
remain there for six months. This was agreed, and 
Federigo was further permitted to take with him his 
moveable possessions and his artillery, which latter, 
however, he afterwards sold to the Pope. 

Thus the last member of the House of Aragon to sit 
upon the throne of Naples took his departure, accom- 
panied by the few faithful ones who loved him well 
enough to follow him into exile ; amongst these was 
that poet Sanazzaro, who, to avenge the wrong suffered 
by the master whom he loved, was to launch his terrible 
epigrams against Alexander, Cesare, and Lucrezia, 
and by means of those surviving verses enable the 
enemies of the House of Borgia to vilify their memories 
through centuries to follow. 

Federigo's captains Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna, 
upon being ransomed, took their swords to Gonzalo 
de Cordoba, hoping for the day when they might 
avenge upon the Borgia the ruin which, even in this 
Neapolitan conquest they attributed to the Pope 
and his son. 

And here, so far as Naples is concerned, closes the 
history of the House of Aragon. In Italy it was 
extinct ; and it was to become so, too, in Spain within 
the century. 



By September 15 Cesare was back in Rome, the richer 
in renown, in French favour, and in a matter of 40,000 
ducats, which is estimated as the total of the sums 
paid him by France and Spain for the support which 
his condotta had afforded them. 

During his absence two important events had taken 
place : the betrothal of his widowed sister Lucrezia 
to Alfonso d'Este, son of Duke Ercole of Ferrara, and 
the publication of the Bull of excommunication (of 
August 20) against the Savelli and Colonna in con- 
sideration of all that they had wrought against the 
Holy See from the pontificate of Sixtus IV to the 
present time. By virtue of that Bull the Pope ordered 
the confiscation of the possessions of the excom- 
municated families, whilst the Caetani suffered in like 
manner at the same time. 

These possessions were divided into two parts, and 
by the Bull of September 17 they were bestowed, one 
upon Lucrezia's boy Roderigo, and with them the 
title of Duke of Sermoneta ; the other to a child, 
Giovanni Borgia (who is made something of a mystery) 
with the title of Duke of Nepi and Palestrina. 

The entire proceeding is undoubtedly open to grave 
censure, since the distribution of the confiscated fiefs 
subjects to impeachment the purity of the motives 
that prompted this confiscation. It was on the part 
of Alexander a gross act of nepotism, a gross abuse 
of his pontifical authority ; but there is, at least, this 



to be said, that in perpetrating it he was doing no 
more than in his epoch it was customary for Popes 
to do. Alexander, it may be said again in this 
connection, was part of a corrupt system, not the 
corrupter of a pure one. 

Touching the boy Giovanni Borgia, the mystery 
attaching to him concerns his parentage, and arises 
out of the singular circumstance that there are two 
papal Bulls, both dated September i, 1501, in each 
of which a different father is assigned to him, the 
second appearing to supplement and correct the first. 

The first of these Bulls, addressed to " Dilecto 
Filio Nobili Joanni de Borgia, Infanti Romano," 
declares him to be a child of three years of age, the 
illegitimate son of Cesare Borgia, unmarried (as Cesare 
was at the time of the child's birth) and of a woman 
(unnamed, as was usual in such cases) also unmarried. 

The second declares him, instead, to be the son 
of Alexander, and runs : " Since you bear this de- 
ficiency not from the said duke, but from us and the 
said woman, which we for good reasons did not desire 
to express in the preceding writing." 

That the second Bull undoubtedly contains the 
truth of the matter is the only possible explanation 
of its existence, and the '' good reasons " that existed 
for the first one are, no doubt, as Gregorovius says, 
1 that officially and by canon law the Pope was in- 
hibited from recognizing children. (His other chil- 
dren, be it remembered, were recognized by him 
during his cardinalate and before his elevation to 
St. Peter's throne.) Hence the attempt by these 
Bulls to circumvent the law to the end that the child 
should not suffer in the matter of his inheritance. 

Burchard, under date of November 3 of that year, 
freely mentions this Giovanni Borgia as the son of 
the Pope and " a certain Roman woman " (" quadam 
Romana "). 

On the same date borne by those two Bulls a third 


one was issued confirming the House of Este perpetu- 
ally in the dominion of Ferrara and its other Romagna 
possessions, and reducing by one-third the tribute 
of 4,000 ducats yearly imposed upon that family by 
Sixtus IV ; and it was explicitly added that these con- 
cessions were made for Lucrezia and her descendants. 

Three days later a courier from Duke Ercole 
brought the news that the marriage contract had been 
signed in Ferrara, and it was in salvoes of artillery 
that day and illuminations after dark that the Pope 
gave expression to the satisfaction afforded him by the 
prospect of his daughter's entering one of the most 
ancient families and ascending one of the noblest 
thrones in Italy. 

It would be idle to pretend that the marriage was 
other than one of convenience. Love between the 
contracting parties played no part in this transaction, 
and Ercole d'Este was urged to it under suasion of 
the King of France, out of fear of the growing might 
of Cesare, and out of consideration for the splendid 
dowry which he demanded and in the matter of which 
he displayed a spirit which Alexander contemptu- 
ously described as that of a tradesman. Nor would 
Ercole send the escort to Rome for the bride until he 
had in his hands the Bull of investiture in the fiefs 
of Cento and Pieve, which, with 100,000 ducats, 
constituted Lucrezia's dowry. Altogether a most 
unromantic affair. 

The following letter from the Ferrarese ambassador 
in Rome, dated September 23, is of interest in con- 
nection with this marriage : 

" Most Illustrious Prince and Most Noble Lord, 
" His Holiness the Pope, taking into considera- 
tion such matters as might occasion displeasure not 
only to your Excellency and to the Most Illustrious 
Don Alfonso, but also to the duchess and even to 
himself, has charged us to write to your Excellency 


to urge you so to contrive that the Lord Giovanni of 
Pesaro, who, as your Excellency is aw^are, is in Mantua, 
shall not be in Ferrara at the time of the nuptials. 
Notwithstanding that his divorce from the said 
duchess is absolutely legitimate and accomplished 
in accordance with pure truth, as is publicly known 
not only from the proceedings of the trial but also 
from the free confession of the said Don Giovanni, 
it is possible that he may still be actuated by some 
lingering ill-will ; wherefore, should he find himself 
in any place where the said lady might be seen by him, 
her Excellency might, in consequence, be compelled 
to withdraw into privacy, to be spared the memory 
of the past. Wherefore, his Holiness exhorts your 
Excellency to provide with your habitual prudence 
against such a contingency." 

Meanwhile, the festivities wherewith her betrothal 
was celebrated went merrily amain, and into the midst 
of them, to bear his share, came Cesare crowned with 
fresh laurels gained in the Neapolitan war. No 
merry-makings ever held under the auspices of Pope 
Alexander VI at the Vatican had escaped being the 
source of much scandalous rumour, but none had 
been so scandalous and disgraceful as the stories put 
abroad on this occasion. These found a fitting climax 
in that anonymous Letter to Silvio Savelli, published 
in Germany — which at the time, be it borne in 
mind, was extremely inimical to the Pope, viewing 
with jaundiced eyes his ever-growing power, and 
stirred perhaps to this unspeakable burst of venomous 
fury by the noble Este alliance, so valuable to Cesare 
in that it gave him a friend upon the frontier of his 
Romagna possessions. 

The appalling publication, which is given in full in 
Burchard, was fictitiously dated from Gonzola de 
Cordoba's Spanish camp at Taranto on November 25. 
A copy of this anonymous pamphlet, which is the most 


violent attack on the Borgias ever penned, perhaps the 
most terrible indictment against any family ever 
published — a pamphlet which Gregorovius does not 
hesitate to call " an authentic document of the state 
of Rome under the Borgias " — fell into the hands 
of the Cardinal of Modena, who on the last day of 
the year carried it to the Pope. 

Before considering that letter it is well to turn to 
the entries in Burchard's diary under the dates of 
October 27 and November 11 of that same year. 
You will find two statements which have no parallel 
in the rest of the entire diary, few parallels in any 
sober narrative of facts. The sane mind must recoil 
and close up before them, so impossible does it seem 
to accept them. 

The first of these is the relation of the supper given 
by Cesare in the Vatican to fifty courtesans — a relation 
which possibly suggested to the debauched Regent 
d'Orleans his fetes d^ Adam^ a couple of centuries later. 

Burchard tells us how, for the amusement of Cesare, 
of the Pope, and of Lucrezia, these fifty courtesans 
were set to dance after supper with the servants and 
some others who were present, dressed at first and 
afterwards not so. He draws for us a picture of those 
fifty women on all fours, in all their plastic nudity, 
striving for the chestnuts flung to them in that cham- 
ber of the Apostolic Palace by Christ's Vicar — an old 
man of seventy — by his son and his daughter. Nor is 
that all by any means. There is much worse to follow 
— matter which we dare not translate, but must leave 
more or less discreetly veiled in the decadent Latin 
of the Caerimoniarius : 

" Tandem exposita dona ultima, diploides de serico, 
paria caligarum, bireta ed alia pro illis qui pluries dictas 
meretrices carnaliter agnoscerent ; que fuerunt ibidem 
in aula publice carnaliter tractate arbitrio presentium, 
dona distributa victoribus." 

Such is the monstrous story ! 


Gregorovius, in his defence of Lucrezia Borgia, 
refuses to believe that she was present ; but he is 
reluctant to carry his incredulity any further. 

" Some orgy of that nature," he writes, " or some- 
thing similar may very well have taken place. But 
who will believe that Lucrezia, already the legal wife 
of Alfonso d'Este and on the eve of departure for Fer- 
rara, can have been present as a smiling spectator ? " 

Quite so. Gregorovius puts his finger at once upon 
one of the obvious weaknesses of the story. But where 
there is one falsehood there are usually others ; and 
if we are not to believe that Lucrezia was present, 
why should we be asked to believe in the presence 
of the Pope ? If Burchard was mistaken in the 
one, why might he not be mistaken in the other ? 
But the question is not really one of whom you will 
believe to have been present at that unspeakable 
performance, but rather whether you can possibly 
bring yourself to believe that it ever took place as 
it is related in the Diarium. 

Gregorovius says, you will observe, " Some orgy 
of that nature, or something similar, may very well 
have taken place." We could credit that Cesare 
held " some orgy of that nature." He had apart- 
ments in the Vatican, and if it shock you to think 
that it pleased him, with his gentlemen, to make merry 
by feasting a parcel of Roman harlots, you are — if you 
value justice — to be shocked at the times rather than 
the man. The sense of humour of the Cinquecento 
was primitive, and in primitive humour prurience 
plays ever an important part, as is discernible in 
the literature and comedies of that age. If you 
would appreciate this to the full, consider Burchard's 
details of the masks worn at Carnival by some merry- 
makers (" V'enerunt ad plateam St. Petri larva ti . . . 
habentes nasos lungos et grossos in forma priaporum ") 
and you must realize that in Cesare's conduct in 
this matter there would have been nothing so very 


abnormal considered from the point of view of the 
Cinquecento, even though it were to approach the 
details given by Burchard. 

But even so, you will hesitate before you accept 
the story of that saturnalia in its entirety, and before 
you believe that an old man of seventy, a priest and 
Christ's Vicar, was present with Cesare and his friends. 
Burchard does not say that he himself was a witness 
of what he relates. But the matter shall presently 
be further considered. 

Meanwhile, let us pass to the second of these entries 
in the diary, and (a not unimportant detail) on the 
very next page of it, under the date of November 11. 
In this it is related that certain peasants entered Rome 
by the Viridarian Gate, driving two mares laden with 
timber ; that, in crossing the Square of St. Peter's, 
some servants of the Pope's ran out and cut the cords 
so that the timber was loosened and the beasts relieved 
of their burden ; they were then led to a courtyard 
within the precincts of the palace, where four stallions 
were loosed upon them. " Ascenderunt equas et 
coierunt cum eis et eas graviter pistarunt et leserunt," 
whilst the Pope at a window above the doorway of the 
Palace, with Madonna Lucrezia, witnessed with great 
laughter and delight, the show which it is suggested 
was specially provided for their amusement. 

The improbabilities of the saturnalia of the fifty 
courtesans pale before the almost utter impossibility 
of this narrative. To render it possible in the case of 
two chance animals as these must have been under the 
related circumstances, a biological coincidence is 
demanded so utterly unlikely and incredible that we 
are at once moved to treat the story with scorn, and 
reject it as a fiction. Yet not one of those many 
writers who have retailed that story from Burchard's 
Diarium as a truth incontestable as the Gospels, has 
paused to consider this — so blinded are we when it is 
a case of accepting that which we desire to accept. 


The narrative, too, is oddly — suspiciously — circum- 
stantial, even to the unimportant detail of the particu- 
lar gate by which the peasants entered Rome. In a 
piece of fiction it is perfectly natural to fill in such 
minor details to the end that the picture shall be 
complete ; but they are rare in narratives of fact. 
And one may be permitted to wonder how came the 
Master of Ceremonies at the Vatican to know the 
precise gate by which those peasants came. It is 
not — as we have seen — the only occasion on which an 
excess of detail in the matter of a gate renders suspicious 
the accuracy of a story of Burchard's. 

Both these affairs find a prominent place in the 
Letter to Silvio Savelli. Indeed Gregorovius cites the 
pamphlet as one of the authorities to support Burchard, 
and to show that what Burchard wrote must have been 
true ; the other authority he cites is Matarazzo, dis- 
regarding not only the remarkable discrepancy between 
Matarazzo's relation and that of Burchard, but the 
circumstance that the matter of that pamphlet became 
current throughout Italy, and that it was thus — and 
only thus — that Matarazzo came to hear of the scandal.^ 

The Letter to Silvio Savelli opens by congratulating 
him upon his escape from the hands of the robbers 
who had stripped him of his possessions, and upon his 
having found a refuge in Germany at the Emperor's 
Court. It proceeds to marvel that thence he should 
have written letters to the Pope begging for justice 
and reinstatement, his wonder being at the credulity 
of Savelli in supposing that the Pope — " betrayer of 
the human race, who has spent his life in betrayals " — 

* The frequency with which the German historian cites Matarazzo 
as an authority is oddly inconsistent, considering that when he finds 
Matarazzo's story of the murder of the Duke of Gandia upsetting 
the theory which Gregorovius himself prefers, by fastening the guilt 
upon Giovanni Sforza, he devotes some space to showing — with per- 
fect justice — that Matarazzo is no authority at all. 


will ever do any just thing other than through fear or 
force. Rather does the writer suggest the adoption 
of other methods ; he urges Savelli to make known 
to the Emperor and all princes of the Empire the 
atrocious crimes of that " infamous wild beast," which 
have been perpetrated in contempt of God and 
religion. He then proceeds to relate these crimes. 
Alexander, Cesare, and Lucrezia, among others of 
the Borgia family, bear their share of the formid- 
able accusations. Of the Pope are related perfidies, 
simonies, and ravishments ; against Lucrezia are urged 
the matter of her incest, the supper of the fifty cour- 
tesans, and the scene of the stallions ; against Cesare 
there are the death of Biselli, the murder of Pedro 
Caldes, the ruin of the Romagna, whence he has driven 
out the legitimate lords, and the universal fear in which 
he is held. 

It is, indeed, a compendium of all the stories which 
from Milan, Naples, and Venice — the three States 
where the Borgias for obvious reasons are best hated — 
have been disseminated by their enemies, and a more 
violent work of rage and political malice was never 
uttered. This malice becomes particularly evident in 
the indictment of Cesare for the ruin of the Romagna. 
Whatever Cesare might have done, he had not done 
that — his bitterest detractor could not (without de- 
liberately lying) say that the Romagna was other than 
benefiting under his sway. That is not a matter of 
opinion, not a matter of inference or deduction. It is 
a matter of absolute fact and irrefutable knowledge. 

To return now to the two entries in Burchard's 
Diarium when considered in conjunction with the 
Letter to Silvio Savelli (which Burchard quotes in full), 
it is remarkable that nowhere else in the discovered 
writings of absolute contemporaries is there the least 
mention of either of those scandalous stories. The 
affair of the stallions, for instance, must have been of 
a fairly public character. Scandal-mongering Rome 


could not have resisted the dissemination of it. Yet, 
apart from the Savelli letter, no single record of it has 
been discovered to confirm Burchard. 

At this time, moreover, it is to be remembered, 
Lucrezia's betrothal to Alfonso d'Este was already 
accomplished ; preparations for her departure and 
wedding were going forward, and the escort from 
Ferrara was daily expected in Rome. If Lucrezia 
had never been circumspect, she must be circumspect 
now, when the eyes of Italy were upon her, and there 
were not wanting those who would have been glad 
to have thwarted the marriage — the object, no doubt, 
of the pamphlet we are considering. Yet all that was 
written to Ferrara was in praise of her — in praise of 
her goodness and her modesty, her prudence, her de- 
voutness, and her discretion, as presently we shall see. 

If from this we are to conclude — as seems reason- 
able — that there was no gossip current in Rome of the 
courtesans' supper and the rest, we may assume that 
there was no knowledge in Rome of such matters ; for 
with knowledge silence would have been impossible. 
So much being admitted, it becomes a matter of de- 
termining whether the author of the Letter to Silvio 
Savelli had access to the diary of Burchard for his 
facts, or whether Burchard availed himself of the 
Letter to Silvio Savelli to compile these particular 
entries. The former alternative being out of the 
question, there but remains the latter — unless it is 
possible that the said entries have creft into the copies 
of the " Diarium " and are not present in the original^ 
which is not available. 

This theory of interpolation, tentatively put for- 
ward, is justified, to some extent at least, by the 
following remarkable circumstances : that two such 
entries, having — as we have said — absolutely no 
parallel in the whole of the Diarium, should follow 
almost immediately the one upon the other ; and that 
Burchard should relate them coldly, without reproof 


or comment of any kind — a most unnatural reticence 
in a writer who loosed his indignation one Easter- 
tide to see Lucrezia and her ladies occupying the 
choir of St. Peter's, where women never sat. 

The Pope read the anonymous libel when it was 
submitted to him by the Cardinal of Modena — read 
it, laughed it to scorn, and treated it with the con- 
tempt which it deserved, yet a contempt which, 
considering its nature, asks a certain greatness of mind. 

If the libel was true it is almost incredible that he 
should not have sought to avenge it, for an ugly truth 
is notoriously hurtful and provocative of resentment, 
far more so than is a lie. Cesare, however, was not 
of a temper quite as long-suffering as his father. 
Enough and more of libels and lampoons had he 
endured already. Early in December a masked man 
— a Neapolitan of the name of Mancioni — who had 
been going through Rome uttering infamies against 
him was seized and so dealt with that he should in 
future neither speak nor write anything in any man's 
defamation. His tongue was cut out and his right 
hand chopped off, and the hand, with the tongue 
attached to its little finger, was hung in sight of all 
and as a warning from a window of the Church of 
Holy Cross. 

And towards the end of January, whilst Cesare's 
fury at that pamphlet out of Germany was still un- 
appeased, a Venetian was seized in Rome for having 
translated from Greek into Latin another libel against 
the Pope and his son. The Venetian ambassador 
intervened to save the wretch, but his intervention 
was vain. The libeller was executed that same night. 

Costabili — the Ferrara ambassador — who spoke to 
the Pope on the matter of this execution, reported 
that his Holiness said that more than once had he 
told the duke that Rome was a free city, in which 
any one was at liberty to say or write what he pleased ; 


that of himself, too, much evil was being spoken, but 
that he paid no heed to it. 

" The duke," proceeded Alexander, " is good- 
natured, but he has not yet learnt to bear insult." 
And he added that, irritated, Cesare had protested 
that, " However much Rome may be in the habit of 
speaking and writing, for my own part I shall give 
these libellers a lesson in good manners." 

The lesson he intended was not one they should live 
to practise. 

(From the portrait by Dosso Dossi.) 

Alinari photo. 




At about the same time that Burchard was making 
in his Diarium those entries which reflect so grossly 
upon the Pope and Lucrezia, Gianluca Pozzi, the am- 
bassador of Ferrara at the Vatican, was writing the 
following letter to his master, Duke Ercole, Lucrezia's 
father-in-law elect : 

" This evening, after supper, I accompanied Messer 
Gerardo Saraceni to visit the Most Illustrious Madonna 
Lucrezia in your Excellency's name and that of the 
Most Illustrious Don Alfonso. We entered into a 
long discussion touching various matters. In truth 
she showed herself a prudent, discreet, and good- 
natured lady." ^ 

The handsome, athletic Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, 
with his brothers Sigismondo and Fernando, had ar- 
rived in Rome on December 23 with the imposing 
escort that was to accompany their brother Alfonso's 
bride back to Ferrara. 

Cesare was prominent in the welcome given them. 
Never, perhaps, had he made greater display than on 
the occasion of his riding out to meet the Ferrarese, 
accompanied by no fewer than 4,000 men-at-arms, 
and mounted on a great war-horse whose trappings 
of cloth of gold and jewels were estimated at 10,000 

The days and nights that followed, until Lucrezia's 
departure a fortnight later, were days and nights of 

* See Gregorovius's Lucrezia Borgia, 
19 315 


gaiety and merry-making at the Vatican ; in banquets, 
dancing, the performance of comedies, masques, etc., 
was the time made to pass as agreeably as might be 
for the guests from Ferrara, and in all Cesare was 
conspicuous, either for the grace and zest with which 
he nightly danced, or for the skill and daring which 
he displayed in the daily joustings and entertain- 
ments, and more particularly in the bull-fight that 
was included in them. 

Lucrezia was splendidly endowed, to the extent, 
it was estimated, of 300,000 ducats, made up by 100,000 
ducats in gold, her jewels and equipage, and the value 
of the Castles of Pieve and Cento. Her departure 
from Rome took place on January 6, and so she passes 
out of this chronicle, which, after all, has been little 
concerned with her. 

Of the honour done her everywhere on that journey 
to Ferrara, the details are given elsewhere, parti- 
cularly in the book devoted to her history and re- 
habilitation by Herr Gregorovius. After all, the real 
Lucrezia Borgia fills a comparatively small place in 
the actual history of her house. It is in the fictions 
concerning her family that she is given such unenviable 
importance, and presented as a Maenad, a poisoner, 
and worse. In reality she appears to us, during her 
life in Rome, as a rather childish, naive, and entirely 
passive figure, important only in so far as she found 
employment at her father's or brother's hands for 
the advancement of their high ambitions and un- 
scrupulous aims. 

In the popular imagination she lives chiefly as a 
terrific poisoner, an appalling artist in venenation. It 
is remarkable that this should be the case, for not 
even the scandal of her day so much as suggests that 
she was connected — directly or even indirectly — 
with a single case of poisoning. No doubt that popu- 
lar conception owes its being entirely to Victor Hugo's 


Away from Rome and settled in Ferrara from the 
twenty-second year of her age, to become anon its 
duchess, her life is well known and admits of no argu- 
ment. The archives of the State she ruled show her 
devout, god-fearing, and beloved in life, and deeply 
mourned in death by a sorrowing husband and a 
sorrowing people. Not a breath of scandal touches 
her from the moment that she quits the scandalous 
environment of the Papal Court. 

Cesare continued at the Vatican after her departure. 
His duchess was to have come to Rome in that Easter 
of 1502, and it had been disposed that the ladies and 
gentlemen who had gone as escort of honour with 
Lucrezia should proceed — after leaving her in Ferrara 
— to Lombardy, to do the like office by Charlotte 
d'Albret, and, meeting her there, accompany her 
to Rome. She was coming with her brother, the 
Cardinal Amanieu d'Albret, and bringing with her 
Cesare's little daughter, Louise de Valentinois, now 
two years of age. But the duchess fell ill at the last 
moment, and was unable to undertake the journey, 
of which Cardinal d'Albret brought word to Rome, 
where he arrived on February 7. 

Ten days later Cesare set out with his father for 
Piombino, for which purpose six galleons awaited them 
at Civita Vecchia under the command of Lodovico 
Mosca, the captain of the Pontifical navy. On these 
the Pope and his son embarked, upon their visit to 
the scene of the latest addition to Cesare's ever- 
growing dominions. 

They landed at Piombino on February 21, and made 
a solemn entrance into the town, the Pope carried 
in state in the Sedia Gestatoria, under a canopy, 
attended by six cardinals and six singers from the 
Sixtine Chapel, whilst Cesare was accompanied by 
a number of his gentlemen. 

They abode four days in Piombino, whence they 


crossed to Elba, for the purpose of disposing for the 
erection there of two fortresses — a matter most pro- 
bably entrusted to Leonardo da Vinci, who continued 
in the ducal train as architect and engineer. 

On March l they took ship to return to Rome ; 
but they were detained at sea for five days by a tem- 
pest which seems to have imperilled the vessels. The 
Pope was on board the captain's galley with his 
cardinals-in-waiting and servants, and when these 
were reduced by the storm and the imminent 
danger to a state of abject terror, the Pope — this 
old man of seventy-one — sat calm and intrepid, 
occasionally crossing himself and pronouncing the 
name of Jesus, and encouraging the very sailors by 
his example as much as by his words. 

In Piombino Cesare had left Michele da Corella 
as his governor. This Corella was a captain of foot, 
a soldier of fortune, who from the earliest days of 
Cesare's military career had followed the duke's 
fortunes — the very man who is alleged to have strangled 
Alfonso of Aragon by Cesare's orders. He is generally 
assumed to have been a Spaniard, and is commonly 
designated as Michelotto, or Don Miguel ; but Alvisi 
supposes him, from his name of Corella, to have been 
a Venetian, and he tells us that by his fidelity to 
Cesare and the implicit manner in which he executed 
his master's orders, he earned — as is notorious — 
considerable hatred. He has been spoken of, indeed, 
as the dme damnee of Cesare Borgia ; but that is a 
purely romantic touch akin to that which gave the 
same designation to Richelieu's Father Joseph. 

The Romagna was at this time administered for 
Cesare Borgia by Ramiro de Lorqua, who, since the 
previous November, had held the office of Governor 
in addition to that of Lieutenant-General in which 
he had been earlier invested. His power in the 
Romagna was now absolute, all Cesare's other offi- 
cers, even the very treasurers, being subject to him. 


He was a man of some fifty years of age, violent and 
domineering, feared by all, and the dispenser of a 
harsh justice which had at least the merit of an 
impartiality that took no account of persons. 

Bernardi gives us an instance of the man's stern, 
uncompromising, pitiless nature. On January 29, 
1502, two malefactors were hanged in Faenza. The 
rope suspending one of them broke while the fellow 
was alive, and the crowd into which he tumbled 
begged for mercy for him at first, then, swayed by 
pity, the people resolved to save him in spite of 
the officers of justice who demanded his surrender. 
Preventing his recapture, the mob bore him off 
to the Church of the Cerviti. The Lieutenant of 
Faenza came to demand the person of the criminal, 
but he was denied by the Prior, who claimed to extend 
him sanctuary. 

But the days of sanctuary were overpast, and the 
laws of the time held that any church or consecrated 
place in which a criminal took refuge should if so facto 
be deemed unconsecrated by his pursuers, and further, 
that any ecclesiastic sheltering such a fugitive did so 
under peril of excommunication from his bishop. 
This law Ramiro accounted it his duty to enforce 
when news was carried to him at Imola of what had 

He came at once to Faenza, and, compelling the Prior 
by actual force to yield up the man he sheltered, he 
hanged the wretch, for the second time, from a window 
of the Palace of the Podesta. At the same time he 
seized several who were alleged to have been ringleaders 
of the fellow's rescue from the hands of the officers, 
and made the citizens of Faenza compromise for the 
lives of these by payment of a fine of 10,000 ducats, 
giving them a month in which to find the money. 

The Faentini sent their envoys to Ramiro to inter- 
cede with him ; but that harsh man refused so much 
as to grant them audience — which was well for them, 


for, as a consequence, the Council sent ambassadors 
to Rome to submit the case to the Pope's Holiness 
and to the Dukeof Valentinois, together with a petition 
that the fine should be remitted — a petition that was 
readily granted. 

Harsh as it was, however, Ramiro's rule was salu- 
tary, its very harshness necessary in a province where 
lawlessness had become a habit through generations of 
misgovernment. Under Cesare's dominion the change 
already was remarkable. During his two years of ad- 
ministration — to count from its commencement — the 
Romagna was already converted from a seething hell 
of dissensions, disorders and crimes — chartered bri- 
gandage and murder — into a powerful State, law- 
abiding and orderly, where human life and personal 
possessions found zealous protection, and where those 
who disturbed the peace met with a justice that was 
never tempered by mercy. 

A strong hand was wanted there, and the duke, 
supreme judge of the tools to do his work, ruled the 
Romagna and crushed its turbulence by means of 
the iron hand of Ramiro de Lorqua. 

It was also under the patronage of Valentinois that 
the first printing-press of any consequence came to be 
established in Italy. This was set up at Fano by 
Girolamo Sancino in 1501, and began the issue of 
worthy books. One of the earliest works undertaken 
(says Alvisi) was the printing of the Statutes of Fano 
for the first time in January of 1502. And it was ap- 
proved by the Council, civil and ecclesiastical, that 
Sancino should undertake this printing of the Statutes 
"Ad perpetuam memoriam Illmi. Domini nostri 



It may well be that it was about this time that Cesare, 
his ambition spreading — as men's ambition will 
spread with being gratified — was considering the 
consolidation of Central Italy into a kingdom of which 
he would assume the crown. 

It was a scheme in the contemplation of which he 
was encouraged by Vitellozzo Vitelli, who no doubt 
conceived that in its fulfilment the ruin of Florence 
would be entailed — which was all that Vitelli cared 
about. What to Cesare would have been no more 
than the means, would have been to Vitelli a most 
satisfactory end. 

Before, however, going so far there was still the 
work of subjugating the States of the Church to be 
completed, as this could not be so considered until 
Urbino, Camerino, and Sinigaglia should be under 
the Borgia dominion. 

For this, no doubt, Cesare was disposing during 
that Easter of 1502 which he spent in Rome, and 
during which there were heard from the south the 
first rumblings of the storm of war whereof ill-starred 
Naples was once more — for the third time within 
ten years — to be the scene. The allies of yesterday 
were become the antagonists of to-day, and France 
and Spain were ready to fly at each other's throats 
over the division of the spoil, as a consequence of 
certain ill-definitions of the matter in the treaty of 
Granada, The French Viceroy, Louis d'Armagnac, 



and the great Spanish Captain, Gonzalo de Cordoba, 
were on the point of coming to blows. 

Nor was the menace of disturbance confined to 
Naples. In Florence, too, the torch of war was 
alight, and if — as he afterwards swore — Cesare Borgia 
had no hand in kindling it, it is at least undeni- 
able that he complacently watched the conflagration, 
conscious that it would make for the fulfilment of 
his own ends. Besides, there was still that little 
matter of the treaty of Forno dei Campi between 
Cesare and Florence, a treaty which the Signory 
had never fulfilled and never intended to fulfil, and 
Cesare was not the man to forget how he had been 

But for the protection of France which she enjoyed, 
Florence must long ere this have been called to account 
by him, and crushed out of all shape under the weight 
of his mailed hand. As it was she was to experience 
the hurt of his passive resentment, and find this rather 
more than she could bear. 

Vitellozzo Vitelli, that vindictive firebrand whose 
original motive in allying himself with Cesare had been 
the hope that the duke might help him to make 
Florence expiate his brother's blood, finding that 
Cesare withheld the expected help, was bent at last 
upon dealing, himself, with Florence. He entered 
into plots with the exiled Piero de' Medici to restore 
the latter to his dominion ; he set intrigues afoot 
in Pisa, where his influence was vast, and in Siena, 
whose tyrant, Pandolfo Petrucci, was ready and 
willing to forward his designs, and generally made so 
disturbing a stir in Tuscany that the Signory became 
gravely alarmed. 

Cesare certainly took no apparent active part in 
the affair. He lent Vitelli no aid ; but neither did 
he attempt to restrain him or any other of the Borgia 
condottieri who were allied with him. 

The unrest, spreading and growing sullenly a while, 


burst suddenly forth in Arezzo on June 4, when the 
cries of " Medici ! " and " Marzocco ! " rang in its 
streets, to announce that the city was in arms against 
the government of Florence. Arezzo followed this 
up by summoning Vitelli, and the waiting, watchful 
condottiero was quick to answer the desired call. 
He entered the town three days later at the head of 
a small body of foot, and was very shortly afterwards 
followed by his brother Giulio Vitelli, Bishop of 
Qitti di Castello, with the artillery, and, presently, 
by Gianpaolo Baglioni with a condotta of horse. 

A few days later Vitelli was in possession of all the 
strongholds of the Val di Chiana, and panic-stricken 
Florence was speeding ambassadors hot-foot to Rome 
to lay her complaints of these matters before the 

Alexander was able to reply that, far from supporting 
the belligerents, he had launched a Bull against them, 
provoked by the poisoning of the Bishop de' Pazzi. 

Cesare looked on with the inscrutable calm for which 
Macchiavelli was presently to find him so remarkable. 
Aware as he was of the French protection which 
Florence enjoyed and could invoke, he perceived how 
vain must ultimately prove Vitelli's efforts, saw, 
perhaps, in all this the grave danger of ultimate ruin 
which Vitelli was incurring. Yet Vitelli's action 
served Cesare's own purposes, and, so that his purposes 
were served, there were no other considerations likely 
to weigh with that cold egotist. Let Vitelli be caught 
in the toils he was spinning, and be choked in them. 
Meanwhile, Florence was being harrowed, and that 
was all to Cesare's satisfaction and advantage. When 
sufficiently humbled, it might well befall that the 
Republic should come on her knees to implore his 
intervention, and his pardon for having flouted him. 

While matters stood so in Arezzo, Pisa declared 
spontaneously for Cesare, and sent (on June 10) to 
offer herself to his dominion and to announce to him 


that his banner was already flying from her turrets 
— and the growth of Florence's alarm at this is readily 

To Cesare it must have been a sore temptation. 
To accept such a 'pied-a-terre in Tuscany as was now 
offered him would have been the first great step 
towards founding that kingdom of his dreams. An 
impulsive man had surely gulped the bait. But 
Cesare, boundless in audacity, most swift to determine 
and to act, was not impulsive. Cold reason, foresight 
and calculation were the ministers of his indomitable 
will. He looked ahead and beyond in the matter of 
Pisa's offer, and he perceived the danger that might 
await him in the acceptance. The time for that 
was not yet. To take what Pisa offered might entail 
offending France, and although Cesare was now in 
case to dispense with French support, he was in no 
case to resist her opposition. 

And so, the matter being considered and determined, 
Cesare quitted Rome on the I2th and left it for the 
Pope to give answer to the Pisan envoys in the Con- 
sistory of June 14 — that neither his Holiness nor the 
Duke of Valentinois could assent to the proposals 
which Pisa made. 

From Rome Cesare travelled swiftly to Spoleto, 
where his army, some ten thousand strong, was en- 
camped. He was bent at last upon the conquest 
of Camerino, and, ever an opportunist, he had seized 
the moment when Florence, which might have been 
disposed to befriend Varano, Tyrant of Camerino, 
was over-busy with her own affairs. 

In addition to the powerful army awaiting him at 
Spoleto, the duke had a further 2,000 men in the 
Romagna ; another 1,000 men held themselves at 
his orders between Sinigaglia and Urbino, and Dionigio 
di Naldo was arming yet another 1,000 men at Veruc- 
chio for his service. Yet further to increase this force, 
Cesare issued an edict during his brief sojourn at 


Spoleto ordering every house in the Romagna to 
supply him with one man-at-arms. 

It was whilst here — as he afterwards wrote to the 
Pope — that news reached him that Guidobaldo da 
Montefeltre, Duke of Urbino, was arming men and 
raising funds for the assistance of Camerino. He 
wrote that he could not at first believe it, but that 
shortly afterwards — at Foligni — he took a chancellor 
of Camerino who admitted that the hopes of this 
State were all founded upon Urbino's assistance ; 
and later, a messenger from Urbino falling into his 
hands, he discovered that there was a plot afoot to 
seize the Borgia artillery as it passed through Ugubio, 
it being known that, as Cesare had no suspicions, the 
guns would be guarded only by a small force. Of 
this treachery the duke strongly expressed his in- 
dignation in his letter to the Pope. 

Whether the matter was true — or whether Cesare 
believed it to be true — it is impossible to ascertain 
with absolute conviction. But it is in the highest 
degree unlikely that Cesare would have written such 
a letter to his father solely by way of setting up a pre- 
text. Had that been his only aim, letters expressing 
his simulated indignation would have been in better 
case to serve his ends had they been addressed to 

If Guidobaldo did engage in such an act, amounting 
to a betrayal, he was certainly paid by Cesare in kind 
and with interest. If the duke had been short of a 
pretext for carrying a drawn sword into the dominions 
of Guidobaldo, he had that pretext now in this act of 
enmity against himself and the Holy See. 

First, however, he disposed for the attack upon 
Camerino. This State, lying on the Eastern spurs 
of the Apennines, midway between Spoleto and Urbino, 
was ruled by Giulio Cesare Varano, an old war-dog 
of seventy years pf age, ruthless and bloodthirsty, who 
owed his throne to his murder of his own brother. 


He was aided in the government of his tyranny by 
his four sons, Venanzio, Annibale, Pietro, and Gian- 

Several times already had he been menaced by 
Cesare Borgia, for he was one of the Vicars proscribed 
for the non-payment of tribute due to the Holy 
See, and at last his hour was come. Against him 
Cesare now dispatched an army under the command 
of Francesco Orsini, Duke of Gravina, and Oliverotto 
Eufreducci, another murderous, bloody gentleman who 
had hitherto served the duke in Vitelli's condotta, and 
who, by an atrocious act of infamy and brigandage, had 
made himself Lord of Fermo, which he pretended — 
being as sly as he was bloody — to hold as Vicar for the 
Holy See. 

This Oliverotto Eufreducci — hereafter known as 
Oliverotto da Fermo — was a nephew of Giovanni 
Fogliano, Lord of Fermo. He had returned home 
to his uncle's Court in the early part of that year, 
and was there received with great honour and affection 
by Fogliano and his other relatives. To celebrate 
his home-coming, Oliverotto invited his uncle and 
the principal citizens of Fermo to a banquet, and at 
table contrived to turn the conversation upon the 
Pope and the Duke of Valentinois ; whereupon, saying 
that these were matters to be discussed more in private, 
he rose from table and begged them to withdraw 
with him into another room. 

All unsuspecting — what should old Fogliano,. suspect 
from one so loved and so deeply in his debt ? — they 
followed him to the chamber where he had secretly 
posted a body of his men-at-arms. There, no sooner 
had the door closed upon this uncle, and those others 
who had shown him so much affection, than he gave 
the signal for the slaughter that had been concerted. 
His soldiers fell upon those poor, surprised victims 
of his greed, and made a speedy and bloody end of all. 

That first and chief step being taken, Oliverotto 


flung himself on his horse, and, gathering his men-at- l\ 

arms about him, rode through Fermo on the business/ 
of butchering what other relatives and friends of 
Fogliano might remain. Among these were Raffaele 
della Rovere and two of his children, one of whom 
was inhumanly slaughtered in its mother's lap. 

Thereafter he confiscated to his own uses the pro- 
perty of those whom he had murdered, and of those 
who, more fortunate, had fled his butcher's hands. 
He dismissed the existing Council and replaced it by 
a government of his own. Which done — to shelter 
himself from the consequences — he sent word to the 
Pope that he held Fermo as Vicar of the Church. 

Whilst a portion of his army marched on Camerino, 
Cesare, armed with his pretext for the overthrow of 
Guidobaldo, set himself deliberately and by an elabor- 
ate stratagem to the capture of Urbino. Of this there 
can be little doubt. The cunning of the scheme is 
of an unsavoury sort, when considered by the notions 
that obtain to-day, for the stratagem was no better 
than an act of base treachery. Yet, lest even in this 
you should be in danger of judging Cesare Borgia by 
standards which cannot apply to his age, you will do 
well to consider that there is no lack of evidence that 
the fifteenth century applauded the business as a 
clever coup. 

Guidobaldo da Montefeltre was a good prince. 
None in all Italy was more beloved by his people, 
towards whom he bore himself with a kindly, paternal 
bonhomie. He was a cultured, scholarly man, a 
patron of the arts, happiest in the splendid library 
of the Palace of Urbino. It happened, unfortunately, 
that he had no heir, which laid his dominions open 
to the danger of division amongst the neighbouring 
greedy tyrants after his death. To avoid this he had 
adopted Francesco Maria della Rovere, hereditary 
Prefect of Sinigaglia, his sister's chil(l and a nephew 



of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere's. There was wis- 
dom and foresight in the adoption, considering the 
favour enjoyed in Rome and in France by the powerful 

From Nocera Cesare sent Guidobaldo a message 
calculated to allay whatever uneasiness he may have 
been feeling, and to throw him completely off his 
guard. The duke notified him that he was marching 
upon Camerino — which was at once true and untrue 
— and begged Guidobaldo to assist him in this enter- 
prise by sending him provisions to Gubbio, which he 
should reach on the morrow — since he was marching 
by way of Cagli and Sassoferrato. Further — and 
obviously with intent that the Duke of Urbino 
should reduce the forces at his disposal — he desired 
Guidobaldo to send Vitelli the support of a thousand 
men, which the latter had earlier solicited, but which 
/ Guidobaldo had refused to supply without orders from 
/ the Pope. Cesare concluded his letter with pro- 
/' y testations of brotherly love — the Judas' kiss which 
/^ makes him hateful to us in this affair. 

It all proved very reassuring to Guidobaldo who set 
his mind at ease and never bethought him of looking 
to his defences, when, from Nocera, Cesare made one 
of those sudden movements, terrible in their swift- 
ness as the spring of a tiger — enabling him to drive 
home his claws where least expected. Leaving all 
baggage behind him, and with provisions for only 
three days, he brought his troops by forced marches 
to Cagli, within the Urbino State, and possessed 
himself of it almost before the town had come to realize 
his presence. 

Not until the citadel, taken entirely by surprise, 
was in Cesare's hands did a messenger speed to Guido- 
baldo with the unwelcome tidings that the Duke of 
Valentinois was in arms, as an enemy, within the 
territory. Together with that message came others 
into the garden of the Zoccolanti monastery — that 

leen shrewdly planned and timed, fv 
condone the treachery by which ^ \ 


favourite resort of Guidobaldo's — where he was in- 
dulging his not unusual custom of supping in the cool 
of that summer evening. They brought him word 
that, while Valentinois was advancing upon him from 
the south, a force of 1,000 men were marching upon 
Urbino from Isola di Fano in the east, and twice 
that number through the passes of Sant' Angelo and 
Verucchio in the north — all converging upon his 

The attack had b< 
and if anything can 

Guidobaldo was lulled into his false security, it is 
the circumstance that this conduct of the matter 
avoided bloodshed — a circumstance not wholly negli- 
gible, and one that was ever a part of Cesare Borgia's i 
policy, save where punishment had to be inflicted y''^ 
or reprisals taken. 

Guidobaldo, seeing himself thus beset upon all 
sides at once, and being all unprepared for resistance, 
perceived that nothing but flight remained him ; 
and that very night he left Urbino hurriedly, taking 
with him the boy Francesco Maria, and intending at 
first to seek shelter in his Castle of S. Leo — a fortress 
that was practically impregnable. But already it was 
too late. The passes leading thither were by now in 
the hands of the enemy, as Guidobaldo discovered 
at dawn. Thereupon, changing his plans, he sent 
the boy and his few attendants to Bagno, and, him- 
self, disguised as a peasant, took to the hills, despite 
the gout by which he was tormented. Thus he won 
to Ravenna, which was fast becoming a home for 
dethroned princes. 

Urbino, meanwhile, in no case to resist, sent its 
castellan to meet Cesare and to make surrender to 
him — whereof Cesare, in the letter already mentioned, 
gives news to the Pope, excusing himself for having 
undertaken this thing without the Pope's know- 
ledge, but that " the treachery employed against me 


by Guidobaldo was so enormous that I could not 
suffer it." 

Within a few hours of poor Guidobaldo's flight 
Cesare was housed in Urbino's splendid palace, whose 
stupendous library was the marvel of all scholars 
of that day. Much of this, together with many of 
the art-treasures collected by the Montefeltri, Cesare 
began shortly afterwards to transfer to Cesena. 

In addition to publishing an edict against pillage 
and violence in the City of Urbino, Cesare made 
doubly sure that none should take place by sending 
his soldiers to encamp at Fermignano, retaining near 
him in Urbino no more than his gentlemen-at-arms. 
The capital being taken, the remainder of the duchy 
made ready surrender, all the strongholds announcing 
their submission to Cesare with the exception of 
,that almost inaccessible Castle of S. Leo, which 
capitulated only after a considerable resistance. 

From Urbino Cesare now entered into communi- 
cation with the Florentines, and asked that a repre- 
sentative should be sent to come to an agreement with 
him. In response to this request, the Republic sent 
him Bishop Soderini as her ambassador. The latter 
arrived in Urbino on June 25 and was immediately 
and very cordially received by the duke. With him, 
in the subordinate capacity of secretary, came a 
lean, small-headed, tight-lipped man, with wide-set, 
intelligent eyes and prominent cheek-bones — one 
Niccolo Macchiavelli, who, in needy circumstances at 
present, and comparatively obscure, was destined to 
immortal fame. Thus did Macchiavelli meet Cesare 
Borgia for the first time, and, for all that we have 
no records of it, it is not to be doubted that his 
study of that remarkable man began then in Urbino, 
to be continued presently, as we shall see, when 
Macchiavelli returns to him in the quality of an 
ambassador himself. 


To Soderini the duke expounded his just grievance, 
founded upon the Florentines' unobservance of the 
treaty of Forno dei Campi ; he demanded that a fresh 
treaty should be drawn up to replace the broken one, 
and that, for the purpose, Florence should change 
her government, as in the ruling one, after what had 
passed, he could repose no faith. He disclaimed all 
associations with the affair of Vitelli, but frankly 
declared himself glad of it, as it had, no doubt, led 
Florence to perceive what came of not keeping faith 
with him. He concluded by assuring Soderini that, 
with himself for their friend, the Florentines need 
fear no molestation from any one ; but he begged that 
the Republic should declare herself in the matter, 
since, if she did not care to have him for her friend, 
she was, of course, at liberty to make of him her 

So impressed was Soderini by Cesare Borgia that on 
that same night he wrote to the Signory : 

" This lord is very magnificent and splendid, and 
so spirited in feats of arms that there is nothing so 
great but that it must seem small to him. In the pur- 
suit of glory and in the acquisition of dominions he 
never rests, and he knows neither danger nor fatigue. 
He moves so swiftly that he arrives at a place before 
it is known that he has set out for it. He knows how 
to make himself beloved of his soldiers, and he has 
in his service the best men of Italy. These things 
render him victorious and formidable, and to these 
is yet to be added his perpetual good fortune. He 
argues," the Florentine envoy proceeds, " with such 
sound reason that to dispute with him would be a 
long affair, for his wit and eloquence never fail him " 
("dello ingegno e della lingua si vale quanto vuole"). 

You are to remember that this homage is one of 
the few surviving impressions of one who came into 
personal contact with Cesare, and of one, moreover, 
representing a Government more or less inimical ^o 



him, who would therefore have no reason to draw 
a favourable portrait of him for that Government's 
benefit. One single page of such testimony is worth 
a dozen volumes of speculation and inference drawn 
afterwards by men who never knew him — in many 
cases by men who never began to know his epoch. 

The envoy concludes by informing the Signory 
that he has the duke's assurances that the latter has 
no thought of attempting to deprive Florence of any 
of her possessions, as " the object of his campaign 
has not been to tyrannize, but to extirpate tyrants." 

Whilst Cesare awaited the Florentines' reply to 
their ambassador's communication, he withdrew to 
the camp at Fermignano, where he was sought on 
July 6 by a herald from Louis XIL This messenger 
came to exhort Cesare to embark upon no enterprise 
against the Florentine Republic, because to offend 
Florence would be to offend the Majesty of France. 
Simultaneously, however, Florence received messages 
from the Cardinal d'Amboise, suggesting that they 
should come to terms with Valentinois by conceding 
him at least a part of what had been agreed in the 
Treaty of Forno dei Campi. 

As a consequence, Soderini was able to inform Cesare 
that the Republic was ready to treat with him, but 
that first he must withdraw Vitelli from Arezzo, 
and compel him to yield up the captured fortresses. 
The duke, not trusting — as he had frankly avowed — 
a Government which once already had broken faith 
with him, and perceiving that, if he whistled his 
war-dogs to heel as requested, he would have lost the 
advantages of his position, refused to take any such 
steps until the treaty should be concluded. He con- 
sented, however, to enforce meanwhile an armistice. 

But now it happened that news reached Florence 
of the advance of Louis XII with an army of 20,000 
men, bound for Naples to settle the dispute with Spain. 
So the Republic — sly and treacherous as any other 


Italian Government of the Cinquecento — instructed 
Soderini to temporize with the duke ; to spend the 
days in amiable, inconclusive interviews and dis- 
cussions of terms which the Signory did not mean 
to make. Thus they counted upon gaining time, 
until the arrival of the French should put an end to 
the trouble caused by Vitelli, and to the need for 
any compromise. 

But Cesare, though forced to submit, was not 
fooled by Soderini's smooth, evasive methods. He 
too — having private sources of information in France 
— was advised of the French advance and of the im- 
minence of danger to himself in consequence of the 
affairs of Florence. And it occasioned him no surprise 
to see Soderini come on July 19 to take his leave of 
him, advised by the Signory that the French vanguard 
was at hand, and that, consequently, the negotiations 
might now with safety be abandoned. 

To console him, he had news on the morrow of 
the conquest of Camerino. 

The septuagenarian Giulio Cesare Varano had 
opposed to the Borgia forces a stout resistance, what 
time he sent his two sons Pietro and Gianmaria to 
Venice for help. It was in the hope of this solicited 
assistance that he determined to defend his tyranny, and 
the war opened by a cavalry skirmish in which Venanzio 
Varano routed the Borgia horse under the command 
of the Duke of Gravina. Thereafter, however, the 
Varani had to endure a siege ; and the old story of 
the Romagna sieges was repeated. Varano had given 
his subjects too much offence in the past, and it was 
for his subjects now to call the reckoning. 

A strong faction, led by a patrician youth of Camer- 
ino, demanded the surrender of the State, and, upon 
being resisted, took arms and opened the gates to the 
troops of Valentinois. The three Varani were taken 
prisoners. Old Giulio Cesare was shut up in the Castle 


of Pergola, where he shortly afterwards died — which 
was not wonderful or unnatural at his time of life, 
and does not warrant Guicciardini for stating, without 
authority, that he was strangled. Venanzio and 
Annibale were imprisoned in the fortress of Cattolica. 

In connection with this surrender of Camerino, 
Cesare wrote the following affectionate letter to his 
sister Lucrezia — who was dangerously ill at Ferrara 
in consequence of her delivery of a still-born child : 

" Most Illustrious and most Excellent Lady, our 
very dear Sister, — Confident of the circumstance that 
there can be no more efficacious and salutary medicine 
for the indisposition from which you are at present 
suffering than the announcement of good and happy 
news, we advise you that at this very moment we have 
received sure tidings of the capture of Camerino. 
We beg that you will do honour to this message 
by an immediate improvement, and inform us of it, 
because, tormented as we are to know you so ill, 
nothing, not even this felicitous event, can suffice to 
afford us pleasure. We beg you also kindly to convey 
the present to the Illustrious Lord Don Alfonso, 
your husband and our beloved Brother-in-law, to 
whom we are not writing to-day." 



The coincidence of the arrival of the French army 
with the conquest of Urbino and Camerino and the 
Tuscan troubles caused one more to be added to that 
ceaseless stream of rumours that flowed through Italy 
concerning the Borgias. This time the envy and 
malice that are ever provoked by success and power 
gave voice in that rumour to the thing it hoped, and 
there ensued as pretty a comedy as you shall find in the 
pages of history. 

The rumour had it that Louis XII, resentful and 
mistrustful of the growth of Cesare's might, which 
tended to weaken France in Italy and became a menace 
to the French dominions, was come to make an end 
of him. Instantly Louis's Court in Milan was thronged 
by all whom Cesare had offended — and they made 
up by now a goodly crowd, for a man may not rise 
so swiftly to such eminence without raising a rich 
crop of enemies. 

Meanwhile, however, Valentinois in the Monte- 
feltre Palace at Urbino remained extremely at ease. 
He was not the man to be without intelligences. 
In the train of Louis was Francesco Troche, the Pope's 
confidential chamberlain and Cesare's devoted servant, 
who, possessed of information, was able to advise 
Valentinois precisely what were the intentions of the 
King of France. Gathering from these advices that 
it was Louis's wish that the Florentines should not 
be molested further, and naturally anxious not to 



run counter to the king's intentions, Cesare perceived 
that the time to take action had arrived, the time 
for passivity in the affairs of Florence was at an 

So he dispatched an envoy to Vitelli, ordering his 
instant evacuation of Arezzo and his withdrawal 
with his troops from Tuscany, and he backed the 
command by a threat to compel Vitelli by force of 
arms, and to punish disobedience by depriving him 
of his state of Citt^ di Castello — " a matter," Cesare 
informed him, " which would be easily accomplished, 
as the best men of that State have already offered 
themselves to me." 

It was a command which Vitelli had no choice but 
to obey, not being in sufficient force to oppose the 
duke. So on July 29, with Gianpaolo Baglioni, he 
relinquished the possession of Arezzo and departed 
out of Tuscany, as he had been bidden. But so in- 
censed was he against the duke for this intervention 
between himself and his revenge, and so freely did 
he express himself in the matter, that it was put 
about at once that he intended to go against Cesare. 

And that is the first hint pfjthe revolt of the^fow- 

Having launched that interdict of his, Cesare, on 
July 25, in the garb of a knight of St. John of Jeru- 
salem, and with only four attendants, departed 
secretly from Urbino to repair to Milan and King 
Louis. He paused for fresh horses at Forli on the 
morrow, and on the 28th reached Ferrara, where he 
remained for a couple of hours to visit Lucrezia, 
who was now in convalescence. Ahead of him he dis- 
patched, thence, a courier to Milan to announce his 
coming, and, accompanied by Alfonso d'Este, resumed 
his journey. 

Meanwhile, the assembly of Cesare's enemies had 
been increasing daily in Milan, whither they repaired 
to support Louis and to vent their hatred of Cesare 


and their grievances against him. There, amongst 
others, might be seen the Duke of Urbino, Pietro 
Varano (one of the sons of the deposed Lord of Camer- 
ino), Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro,and Francesco Gonzaga 
of Mantua — which latter was ever ready to turn 
whichever way the wind was blowing, and was now 
loudest in his denunciations of Cesare and eagerly 
advocating the formation of a league against him. 

Louis received the news of Cesare's coming, and 
— endowed, it is clear, with a nice sense of humour — 
kept the matter secret until within a few hours of the 
duke's actual arrival. On the morning of August 5, 
according to Bernardi,* -he whispered the information 
in Trivulzio's ear — and whispered it loudly enough 
to be overheard by those courtiers who stood nearest. 

Whatever check their satisfaction at the supposed 
state of things may have received then was as nothing 
to their feelings a few hours later when they wit- 
nessed the greeting that passed between king and 
duke. Under their uneasy eyes Louis rode forth to 
meet his visitor, and gave him a glad and friendly 
welcome, addressing him as " cousin " and " dear 
relative," and so, no doubt, striking dismay into 
the hearts of those courtiers, who may well have 
deemed that perhaps they had expressed themselves 
too freely. 

Louis, in person, accompanied Valentinois to the 
apartments prepared for him in the Castle of Milan, 
and on the morrow gave a banquet and commanded 
merry-makings in his visitor's honour. 

Conceive the feelings of those deposed tyrants 
and their friends, and the sudden collapse of the hopes 
which they had imagined the king to be encouraging. 
They did, of course, the only thing there was to do. 
They took their leave precipitately and went their 
ways — all save Gonzaga, whom the king retained 
that he might make his peace with Cesare, and engage 
* Cronachf ForlivfSf, 


in friendship with him, a friendship consolidated 
there and then by the betrothal of their infant chil- 
dren : little Francesco Gonzaga and Louise de Valen- 
tinois, aged two, the daughter whom Cesare had never 
beheld and was never to behold. 

Two factors were at work in the interests of Valen- 
tinois — the coming war in Naples with the Spaniard, 
which caused Louis to desire to stand well with the 
Pope ; and the ambition of Louis's friend and coun- 
sellor, the Cardinal d'Amboise, to wear the tiara, 
which caused this prelate to desire to stand well with 
Cesare himself, since the latter's will in the matter of 
a Pope to succeed his father should be omnipotent 
with the Sacred College. 

Therefore, that they might serve their interests in 
the end, both king and cardinal served Cesare's in 
the meantime. 

The Duke of Valentinois's visit to Milan had served 
to increase the choler of Vitelli, who accounted that 
by this action Cesare had put him in disgrace with the 
King of France ; and Vitelli cried out that thus was 
he repaid for having sought to make Cesare King 
of Tuscany. In such high dudgeon was the fierce 
Tyrant of Citt^ di Castello that he would not go 
to pay his court to Louis, and was still the more angry 
to hear of the warm welcome accorded in Milan to 
the Cardinal Orsini. In this he read approval of 
the Orsini for having stood neutral in the Florentine 
business, and, by inference from that, disapproval 
of himself. 

Before accusing Valentinois of treachery to his 
condottieri, before saying that he shifted the blame 
of the Tuscan affair on to the shoulders of his 
captains, it would be well to ascertain that there 
was any blame to shift — that is to say, any blame 
that must originally have fallen upon Cesare. Cer- 
tainly he made no effort to restrain Vitelli until the 
King of France had arrived and he had secret infor- 


mation which caused him to deem it politic to inter- 
vene. But of what avail until that moment, would 
any but an armed intervention have been with so 
vindictive and one-idea'd a man, and what manner of 
fool would not Cesare have been to have spent his 
strength in battle with his condottieri for the pur- 
pose of befriending a people who had never shown 
themselves other than his own enemies ? 

Like the perfect egotist he was, he sat on the fence, 
and took pleasure in the spectacle of the harassing of 
his enemies by his friends, prepared to reap any advan- 
tages there might be, but equally prepared to avoid 
any disadvantages. 

It was not heroic, it was not noble; but it was 
extremely human. 

Cesare was with the King of France in Genoa 
at the end of August, and remained in his train until 
September 2, when finally he took his leave of him. 
When they heard of his departure from the Court 
of Louis, his numerous enemies experienced almost 
as much chagrin as that which had been occasioned 
them by his going thither. For they had been con- 
soling themselves of late with a fresh rumour ; and 
again they were believing what it pleased them to 
believe. Rumours, you perceive, were never wanting 
where the Borgias were concerned, and it may be 
that you are beginning to rate these voces populi at 
their proper value, and to apprehend the worth of 
many of those that have been embalmed as truths in 
the abiding records. 

This last one had it that Louis was purposely keeping 
Cesare by him, and intended ultimately to carry him 
off to France, and so put an end to the disturbances 
the duke was creating in Italy. What a consolation 
would not that have been to those Italian princelings 
to whose undoing he had warred ! And can you 
marvel that they believed and circulated so readily the 


thing for which they hoped so fondly ? By your 
appreciation of that may you measure the fresh 
disappointment that was theirs. 

So mistaken were they, indeed, as it now transpired, 
that Louis had actually, at last, removed his protection 
from Bologna, under the persuasion of Cesare and 
the Pope. Before the duke took his departure from 
King Louis's Court, the latter entered into a treaty 
with him in that connection to supply him with three 
hundred lances : " De bailler au Valentinois trois 
cents lances pour I'aider k conquerir Bologne au 
nome de I'Eglise, et opprimer les Ursins, Baillons et 

It was a double-dealing age, and Louis's attitude 
in this affair sorted well with it. Feeling that he 
owed Bologna some explanation, he presently sent a 
singularly lame one by Claude de Seyssel. He put 
it that the Bentivogli personally were none the less 
under his protection than they had been hitherto, 
but that the terms of the protection provided that 
it was granted exclusively of the rights and authority 
of the Holy Roman See over Bologna, and that the 
king could not embroil himself with the Pope. With 
such a shifty message went M. de Seyssel to make it 
quite clear to Bentivogli what his position was. And 
on the heels of it came, on September 2, a papal brief 
citing Bentivogli and his two sons to appear before 
the Pontiff within fifteen days for the purpose of 
considering with his Holiness the matter of the paci- 
fication and better government of Bologna, which for 
so many years had been so disorderly and turbulent. 
Thus the Pope's summons, with a menace that was 
all too thinly veiled. 

But Bentivogli was not taken unaw^ares. He was 
not even astonished. Ever since Cesare's departure 
from Rome in the previous spring he had been 
disposing against such a possibility as this — fortifying 
Bologna, throwing up outworks and erecting bastions 


beyond the city, and levying and arming men, in 
all of which he depended largely upon the citizens 
and particularly upon the art-guild, which was devoted 
to the House of Bentivogli. 

Stronger than the affection for their lord — which, 
when all is said, was none too great in Bologna — 
was the deep-seated hatred of the clergy entertained 
by the Bolognese. This it was that rallied to Benti- 
vogli such men as Fileno della Tuate, who actually 
hated him. But it was a choice of evils with Fileno 
and many of his kidney. Detesting the ruling house, 
and indignant at the injustices it practised, they de- 
tested the priests still more — so much that they would 
have taken sides with Satan himself against the Ponti- 
ficals. In this spirit did they carry their swords to 

Upon the nobles Bentivogli could not count — less 
than ever since the cold-blooded murder of the Mares- 
cotti ; but in the burghers' adherence he deemed 
himself secure, and indeed on September 17 he had 
some testimony of it. 

On that date — the fortnight's grace expiring — the 
brief was again read to the Reggimento ; but it 
was impossible to adopt any resolution. The people 
were in arms, and, with enormous uproar, protested 
that they would not allow Giovanni Bentivogli or 
his sons to go to Rome, lest they should be in danger 
once they had left their own State. 

Italy was full of rumours at the time of Cesare's 
proposed emprise against Bologna, and it was added 
that he intended, further, to make himself master of 
Citta di Castello and Perugia, and thus, by depriving 
them of their tyrannies, punish Vitelli and Baglioni 
for their defection. 

This was the natural result of the terms of Cesare's 
treaty with France having become known ; but the 
part of it which regarded the Orsini, Vitelli, and Bag- 
lioni was purely provisional Considering that these 


condottieri were now at odds with Cesare, they might 
see fit to consider themselves bound to Bentivogli 
by the Treaty of Villafontana, signed by Vitelli and 
Orsini on the duke's behalf at the time of the capitu- 
lation of Castel Bolognese. They might choose to 
disregard the fact that this treaty had already been 
violated by Bentivogli himself, through the non- 
fulfilment of the terms of it, and refuse to proceed 
against him upon being so bidden by Valentinois. 

It was for such a contingency as this that provision 
was made by the clause concerning them in Cesare's 
treaty with Louis. 

The Orsini were still in the duke's service, in 
command of troops levied for him and paid by him, 
and considering that with them Cesare had no quarrel, 
it is by no means clear why they should have gone 
over to the alliance of the condottieri that was now 
forming against the duke. Join it, however, they did. 
They, too, were in the Treaty of Villafontana ; but 
that they should consider themselves bound by it, 
would have been — had they urged it — more in the 
nature of a pretext than a reason. But they chose 
a pretext even more slender. They gave out that 
in Milan Louis XII had told Cardinal Orsini that 
the Pope's intention was to destroy the Orsini. 

To accept such a statement as true, we should have 
to believe in a disloyalty and a double-dealing on the 
part of Louis XII altogether incredible. To what end 
should he, on the one side, engage to assist Cesare 
with 300 lances to " oppress " the Orsini — if neces- 
sary, and among others — whilst, on the other, he goes 
to Orsini with the story which they attribute to him ? 
What a mean, treacherous, unkingly figure must he 
not cut as a consequence ! He may have been — we 
know, indeed, that he was — no more averse to double- 
dealing than any other Cinquecentist ; but he was 
probably as averse to being found out in a mean- 
ness and made to look contemptible as any double- 


dealer of our own times. It is a consideration worth 

When word of the story put about by the Orsini 
was carried to the Pope he strenuously denied the 
imputation, and informed the Venetian ambassador 
that he had written to complain of this to the King 
of France, and that, far from such a thing being true, 
Cesare was so devoted to the Orsini as to be " more 
Orsini than Borgian." , 

It is further worth considering that the defection I / 
of the Orsini was neither immediate nor spontaneous, // 
as must surely have been the case had the story been 7 
true. It was the Baglioni and Vitelli only who first jj 
met to plot at Todi, to declare that they would not U 
move against their ally of Bologna, and to express/ 
the hope that they might bring the Orsini to the same/ 
mind. They succeeded so well that the second* 
meeting was held at Magione — a place belonging to 
the powerful Cardinal Orsini, situated near the 
Baglioni's stronghold of Perugia. Vitellozzo was 
carried thither on his bed, so stricken with the morho 
gallico — which in Italy was besetting most princes, 
temporal and ecclesiastical — that he was unable to walk. 

Gentile and Gianpaolo Baglioni, Cardinal Gian- 
battista Orsini, Francesco Orsini, Duke of Gravina, 
Paolo Orsini, the bastard son of the Archbishop of 
Trani, Pandolfo Petrucci — Lord of Siena — and Hermes 
Bentivogli were all present. The last-named, prone 
to the direct methods of murder by which he had rid 
Bologna of the Marescotti, is said to have declared 
that he would kill Cesare Borgia if he but had the 
opportunity, whilst Vitelli swore solemnly that within 
a year he would slay or capture the duke, or else 
drive him out of Italy. 

From this it will be seen that the Diet of Magione 
was no mere defensive alliance, but actually an offen- 
sive one, with the annihilation of Cesare Borgia for 
its objective. 


They certainly had the power to carry out their reso- 
lutions, for whilst Cesare disposed at that moment of 
not more than 2,500 foot, 300 men-at-arms, and the 100 
lances of his Caesarean guard of patricians, the con- 
federates had in arms some 9,000 foot and 1,000 horse. 
Conscious of their superior strength, they determined 
to strike at once, before Cesare should be further 
supported by the French lances, and to make sure 
of him by assailing him on every side at once. To 
this end it was resolved that Bentivogli should in- 
stantly march upon Imola, where Cesare lay, whilst 
the others should possess themselves of Urbino and 
Pesaro simultaneously. 

They even approached Florence and Venice in 
the matter, inviting the Republics to come into the 
league against Valentinois. 

The Florentines, however, could not trust such 
enemies of their own as Vitelli and the Orsini, nor 
dared they join in an enterprise which had for scope 
to make war upon an ally of France ; and they sent 
word to Cesare of their resolve to enter into no 
schemes against him. 

The Venetians would gladly have moved to crush 
a man who had snatched the Romagna from under 
their covetous eyes ; but in view of the league with 
France they dared not. What they dared, they did. 
They wrote to Louis at length of the evils that were 
befalling Italy at the hands of the Duke of Valentinois, 
and of the dishonour to the French crown which lay 
for Louis in his alliance with Cesare Borgia. They 
even went so far — and most treacherously, considering 
the league — as to allow their famous captain, Barto- 
lomeo d'Alviano, to reconduct Guidobaldo to Urbino, 
as we shall presently see. 

Had the confederates but kept faith with one another 
Cesare's knell had soon been tolled. But they were 
a weak-kneed pack of traitors, irresolute in their 
enmity as in their friendships. The Orsini hung back. 


They urged that they did not trust themselves to 
attack Cesare with men actually in his pay ; whilst 
Bentivogli — treacherous by nature to the back-bone 
of him — actually went so far as to attempt to open 
secret negotiations with Cesare through Ercole d'Este 
of Ferrara. 



On October 2 news of the revolt of the condottieri 
and the diet of Magione had reached the Vatican 
and rendered the Pope uneasy. Cesare, however, 
had been informed of it some time before at Imola, 
where he was awaiting the French lances that should 
enable him to raid the Bolognese and drive out the 

Where another might have been paralyzed by a 
defection which left him almost without an army, 
and would have taken the course of sending envoys 
to the rebels to attempt to make terms and by con- 
cessions to patch up a treaty, Cesare, with character- 
istic courage, assurance, and promptitude of action, 
flung out officers on every side to levy him fresh 

His great reputation as a condottiero, the fame of 
his wealth and his notorious liberality, stood him 
now in excellent stead. The response to his call 
was instantaneous. Soldiers of fortune and mer- 
cenaries showed the trust they had in him, and flocked 
to his standard from every quarter. One of the first 
to arrive was Gasparo Sanseverino, known as Fra- 
cassa, a condottiero of great renown, who had been 
in the Pontifical service since the election of Pope 
Alexander. He was a valuable acquisition to Cesare, 
who placed him in command of the horse. Another 
was Lodovico Pico della Mirandola, who brought a 
small condotta of 60 lances and 60 light horse. Ranieri 




(In the Borghese Gallery, Rome.) 

Anderson photo. 



della Sassetta rode in at the head of 100 mounted 
arbalisters, and Francesco de Luna with a body of 
50 arquebusiers.^ 

Valentinois sent out Raffaele dei Pazzi and Galeotto 
Pallavicini, the one into Lombardy to recruit 1,000 
Gascons, the other to raise a body of Swiss mercenaries. 
Yet, when all is said, these were but supplementary 
forces ; the main strength of Cesare's new army lay 
in the troops raised in the Romagna, which, faithful 
to him and confident of his power and success, rallied 
to him now in the hour of his need. Than this there 
can be no more eloquent testimony to the quality 
of his rule. In command of these Romagnuoli troops 
he placed such Romagnuoli captains as Dionigio di 
Naldo and Marcantonio da Fano, thereby again l/ 
affording proof of his wisdom, by giving these soldiers / 
their own compatriots and men with whom they were 
in sympathy for their leaders. 

With such speed had he acted, and such was the 
influence of his name, that already, by October 14, 
he had assembled an army of upwards of 6,000 men, 
which his officers were diligently drilling at Imola, 
whilst daily now were the French lances expected, 
and the Swiss and Gascon mercenaries he had sent 
to levy. 

It may well be that this gave the confederates 
pause, and suggested to them that they should re- 
consider their position and ask themselves whether 
the opportunity for crushing Cesare had not slipped 
by whilst they had stood undecided. 

It was Pandolfo Petrucci who took the first step 
towards a reconciliation, by sending word to Valen- 
tinois that it was not his intention to take any measures 
that might displease his Excellency. His Excellency 
will no doubt have smiled at that belated assurance 
from the sparrow to the hawk. Then, a few days 

* The arquebus, although it had existed in Italy for nearly a cen- 
tury, was only just coming into general use. 



later, came news that Giulio Orsini had entered into 
an agreement with the Pope. This appeared to give 
the confederacy its death-blow, and Paolo Orsini 
was on the point of setting out to seek Cesare at Imola 
for the purpose of treating with him — which would 
definitely have given burial to the revolt — when sud- 
denly there befell an event which threw the scales the 
other way. 

Cesare's people were carrying out some work in 
the Castle of S. Leo, in the interior of which a new 
wall was in course of erection. For the purposes 
of this, great baulks of timber were being brought 
into the castle from the surrounding country. Some 
peasants, headed by one Brizio, who had been a squire 
of Guidobaldo's, availed themselves of the circum- 
stance to capture the castle by a stratagem. Bringing 
forward some great masses of timber and felled trees, 
they set them down along the drawbridge in such 
a manner as to prevent its being hoisted. That done, 
an attack in force was directed against the fortress. 
The place, whose natural defences rendered it 
practically impregnable, was but slightly manned ; 
being thus surprised, and unable to raise the bridge, 
it was powerless to offer any resistance, so that the 
Montefeltre peasants, having killed every Borgia 
soldier of the garrison, took possession of it and held 
it for Duke Guidobaldo. 

This capture of S. Leo was as a spark that fired 
a train. Instantly the hardy hillmen of Urbino were 
in arms to reconquer Guidobaldo's duchy for him. 
Stronghold after stronghold fell into their hands, until 
they were in Urbino itself. They made short work 
of the capital's scanty defenders, flung Cesare's gover- 
nor into prison, and finally obtained possession of the 

It was the news of this that caused the confederates 
once more to pause. Before declaring themselves, they 
waited to see what action Venice would take, whilst 


in the meantime they sought shelter behind a 
declaration that they were soldiers of the Church 
and would do nothing against the will of the Pontiff. 
They were confidently assured that Venice would 
befriend Guidobaldo, and help him back to his 
throne now that his own people had done so much 
towards that end. It remained, however, to be seen 
whether Venice would at the same time befriend 
Pesaro and Rimini. 

Instantly Cesare Borgia — who was assailed by grave 
doubts concerning the Venetians — took his measures. 
He ordered Bartolomeo da Capranica, who was chief in 
command of his troops in Urbino, to fall back upon 
Rimini with all his companies, whilst to Pesaro the 
duke dispatched Michele da Corella and Ramiro de 

It was a busy time of action with the duke at Imola, 
and yet, amid all the occupation which this equipment 
of a new army must have given him, he still found time 
for diplomatic measures, and, taking advantage of 
the expressed friendliness of Florence, he had replied 
by desiring the Signory to send an envoy to confer with 
him. Florence responded by sending, as her repre- 
sentative, that same Niccolo Macchiavelli who had 
earlier accompanied Soderini on a similar mission to 
Valentinois, and who had meanwhile been advanced 
to the dignity of Secretary of State. 
I Macchiavelli has left us, in his dispatches tg his 
Government, the most precious and valuable informa- 
tion concerning that period of Cesare Borgia's history 
during which he was with the duke on the business 
of his legation. Not only is it the rare evidence of 
an eye-witness that Macchiavelli affords us, but the 
evidence, as we have said, of one endowed with singular 
acumen and an extraordinary gift of psychological 
analysis. The one clear and certain inference to be 
drawn, not only from those dispatches, but from the 



Florentine secretary's later writings, is that, at close 
quarters with Cesare Borgia, a critical witness of his 
methods, he conceived for him a transcending ad- 
miration which was later to find its fullest expression 
in his immortal book ^he Prince — a book, remember, 
compiled to serve as a guide in government to Giuliano 
K de' Medici, the feeble brother of Pope Leo X, a book 
inspired by Cesare Borgia, who is the model prince 
held up by Macchiavelli for emulation. 

Does it serve any purpose, in the face of this work 
from the pen of the acknowledged inventor of state- 
craft, to describe Cesare's conquest of the Romagna 
by opprobrious epithets and sweeping statements 
of condemnation and censure — statements kept care- 
fully general, and never permitted to enter into detail 
which must destroy their own ends and expose their 
falsehood ? 

Gregorovius, in this connection, is as full of con- 
tradictions as any man must be who does not sift 
out the truth and rigidly follow it in his writings. 
Consider the following scrupulously translated ex- 
tracts from his Geschichte der Stadt Rom : 

(a) " Cesare departed from Rome to resume his 
bloody work in the Romagna." 

(b) "... the frightful deeds performed by Cesare 
on both sides of the Apennines. He assumes the 
semblance of an exterminating angel, and performs 
such hellish iniquities that we can only shudder at 
the contemplation of the evil of which human nature 
is capable." 

And now, pray, consider and compare with those 
the following excerpt from the very next page of 
that same monumental work : 

" Before him [Cesare] cities trembled ; the magis- 

/trates prostrated themselves in the dust ; sycophantic 

/ courtiers praised him to the stars. Tet it is undeniable 


that his government was energetic and good ; for the 
first time Romagna enjoyed feace and was rid of her 
vampires. In the name of Cesare justice was adminis- 
tered by Antonio di Monte Sansovino^ President of the 
Ruota of Cesena^ a man universally beloved, ^^ 

It is almost as if the truth had slipped out unawares, 
for the first period hardly seems a logical prelude to 
the second, by which it is largely contradicted. 
If Cesare's government was so good that Romagna 
knew peace at last and was rid of her vampires, 
why did cities tremble before him ? There is, by 
the way, no evidence of such trepidations in any of 
the chronicles of the conquered States, one and ail 
of which hail Cesare as their deliverer. Why, if 
he was held in such terror, did city after city — as 
we have seen — spontaneously offer itself to Cesare's 
dominion ? 

But to rebut those statements of Gregorovius's 
there is scarce the need to pose these questions ; 
sufficiently does Gregorovius himself rebut them. 
The men who praised Cesare, the historian tells us, 
were sycophantic courtiers. But where is the wonder 
of his being praised if his government was as good 
as Gregorovius admits it to have been ? What was 
unnatural in that praise ? What so untruthful as 
to deserve to be branded sycophantic ? And by what 
right is an historian to reject as sycophants the writers 
who praise a man, whilst accepting every word of his 
detractors as the words of inspired evangelists, even 
when their falsehoods are so transparent as to provoke 
the derision of the thoughtful and analytic ? 

As I'Espinois points out in his masterly essay in 
the Revue des Questions Historiques, Gregorovius 
refuses to recognize in Cesare Borgia the Messiah of 
a united Central Italy, but considers him merely as a 
high-flying adventurer ; whilst Villari, in his Life and 
Times of Macchiavelli, tells you bluntly that Cesare 


Borgia was neither a statesman nor a soldier but a 

These are mere words ; and to utter words is 
easier than to make them good. 

" High-flying adventurer," or " brigand-chief," 
hy all means, if it please you. What but a high- 
flying adventurer was the wood-cutter, Muzio At- 
tendolo, founder of the ducal House of Sforza ? 
What but a high-flying adventurer was that Count 
Henry of Burgundy who founded the kingdom of 
Portugal ? What else was the Norman bastard 
William, who conquered England ? What else the 
artillery officer. Napoleon Bonaparte, who became 
Emperor of the French ? What else was the founder 
of any dynasty but a high-flying adventurer — or a 
brigand-chief, if the melodramatic term is more 
captivating to your fancy ? 

These terms are used to belittle Cesare. They 
achieve no more, however, than to belittle those who 
penned them ; for, even as they are true, the marvel 
is that the admirable matter in these truths appears 
to have escaped those authors. 

What else Gregorovius opines — that Cesare was 
no Messiah of United Italy — is true enough. Cesare 
was the Messiah of Cesare. The well-being of Italy 
for its own sake exercised his mind not so much as 
the well-being of the horse he rode. He wrought for 
his own aggrandisement — but he wrought wisely; 
and, whilst the end in view is no more to be censured 
than the ambition of any man, the means employed 
are in the highest degree to be commended, since 
the well-being of the Romagna, which was not an 
aim, was, nevertheless, an essential and praiseworthy 

r„. When it can be shown that every other of those 
conquerors who cut heroic figures in history were 
purest altruists, it will be time to damn Cesare Borgia 
I for his egotism. 


What Villari says, for the purpose of adding rhetori- 
cal force to his " brigand-chief " — that Cesare was no 
statesman and no soldier — ^is entirely of a piece with 
the rest of the chapter in which it occurs ^ — a chapter 
rich in sweeping inaccuracies concerning Cesare. 
But it is staggering to find the statement in such a 
place, amid Macchiavelli's letters on Cesare, breathing 
an obvious and profound admiration of the duke's 
talents as a politician and a soldier — an admiration 
which later is to go perilously near to worship. To 
Macchiavelli, Cesare is the incarnation of a hazy 
ideal, as is abundantly shown in l^he Prince. For 
Villari to reconcile all this with his own views 
must seem impossible. And impossible it is ; yet 
Villari achieves it, with an audacity that leaves you 

No — he practically tells you — this Macchiavelli, 
who daily saw and spoke with Cesare for two months 
(and during a critical time, which is when men best 
reveal their natures), this acute Florentine — the 
acutest man of his age, perhaps — who studied and 
analysed Cesare, and sent his Government the results 
of his analyses, and was inspired by them later to write 
^he Prince — this man did not know Cesare Borgia. 
He wrote, not about Cesare himself, but about a 
creation of his own intellect. 

That is what Villari pretends. Macchiavelli, the 
representative of a power unfriendly at heart under 
the mask of the expedient friendliness, his mind 
already poisoned by all the rumours current throughout 
Italy, comes on this mission to Valentinois. Florence, 
fearing and hating Valentinois as she does, would 
doubtless take pleasure in detractory advices. Other 
ambassadors — particularly those of Venice — ^pander 
to their Governments' wishes in this respect, conscious 
that there is a sycophancy in slander contrasted with 
which the ordinary sycophancy of flattery is as water 
* In his Niccold Machiavelli, 


to wine ; they diligently send home every scrap of 
indecent or scandalous rumour they can pick up 
in the Roman ante-chambers, however unlikely, 
uncorroborated, or unconcerning the business of an 

But Macchiavelli, in Cesare Borgia's presence, is 
overawed by his greatness, his force and his intellect, 
and these attributes engage him in his dispatches. 
These same dispatches are a stumbling-block to all 
who prefer to tread the beaten, sensational track, 
and to see in Cesare Borgia a villain of melodrama, a 
monster of crime, brutal, and, consequently, of no 
intellectual force. But Villari contrives to step more 
or less neatly, if fatuously, over that formidable 
obstacle, by telling you that Macchiavelli presents to 
you not really Cesare Borgia, but a creation of his 
own intellect, which he had come to admire. It is 
a simple, elementary expedient by means of which 
every piece of historical evidence ever penned may 
be destroyed — including all that which defames the 
House of Borgia. 

Macchiavelli arrived at Imola on the evening of 
October 7, 1502, and, all travel-stained as he was, 
repaired straight to the duke, as if the message with 
which he was charged was one that would not brook 
a moment's delay in its deliverance. Actually, how- 
ever, he had nothing to offer Cesare but the empty 
expressions of Florence's friendship and the hopes 
she founded upon Cesare's reciprocation. The crafty 
young Florentine — he was thirty-three at the time — 
was sent to temporize and to avoid committing him- 
self or his Government. 

Valentinois listened to the specious compliments, 
and replied by similar protestations and by reminding 
Florence how he had curbed the hand of those very 
condottieri who had now rebelled against him as a 
consequence. He showed himself calm and tranquil 


at the loss of Urbino, telling Macchiavelli that he 
" had not forgotten the way to reconquer it," when it 
should suit him. Of the revolted condottieri he 
contemptuously said that he accounted them fools 
for not having known how to choose a more favourable 
moment in which to harm him, and that they would 
presently find such a fire burning under their feet 
as would call for more water to quench it than such 
men as these disposed of. 

Meanwhile, the success of those rustics of Urbino 
who had risen, and the ease of their victories, had fired 
others of the territory to follow their example. Fos- 
sombrone and Pergola were the next to rebel and to 
put the Borgia garrisons to the sword ; but, in their 
reckless audacity, they chose their moment ill, for 
Michele da Corella was at hand with his lances, and, 
although his orders had been to repair straight to 
Pesaro, he ventured to depart from them to the extent 
of turning aside to punish the insurgence of those 
towns by launching his men-at-arms upon them 
and subjecting them to an appalling and pitiless 

When Cesare heard the news of it and the details 
of the horrors that had been perpetrated, he turned, 
smiling cruelly, to Macchiavelli, who was with him, 
and, " The constellations this year seem unfavour- 
able to rebels," he observed. 

A battle of wits was toward between the Florentines' 
Secretary of State and the Duke of Valentinois, each 
mistrustful of the other. In the end Cesare, a little 
out of patience at so much inconclusiveness, though 
outwardly preserving his immutable serenity, sought 
to come to grips by demanding that Florence should 
declare whether he was to account her his friend or 
not. But this was precisely what Macchiavelli's in- 
structions forbade him from declaring. He answered 
that he must first write to the Signory, and begged 


the duke to tell him what terms he proposed should 
form the treaty. But there it was the duke's turn 
to fence and to avoid a direct answer, desiring that 
Florence should open the negotiations and that from 
her should come the first proposal. 

He reminded Macchiavelli that Florence would do 
well to come to a decision before the Orsini sought to 
patch up a peace with him, since, once that was done, 
there would be fresh difficulties, owing, of course, 
to Orsini's enmity to the existing Florentine Govern- 
ment. And of such a peace there was now every 
indication, Paolo Orsini having at last sent Cesare 
proposals for rejoining him, subject to his abandoning 
the Bologna enterprise (in which, the Orsini argued, 
they could not bear a hand without breaking faith 
with Bentivogli) and turning against Florence. Vi- 
telli, at the same time, announced himself ready to 
return to Cesare's service, but first he required some 
" honest security." 

Well might it have pleased Cesare to oblige the 
Orsini to the letter, and to give a lesson in straight- 
dealing to these shuffling Florentine pedlars who sent 
a nimble-witted Secretary of State to hold him in 
play with sweet words of barren meaning. But there 
was France and her wishes to be considered, and he 
could not commit himself. So his answer was per- 
emptory and condescending. He told them that, if 
they desired to show themselves his friends, they 
could set about reconquering and holding Urbino 
for him. 

It looked as if the condottieri agreed to this, for 
on October ii Vitelli seized Castel Durante, and on 
the next day Baglioni was in possession of Cagli. 

In view of this, Cesare bade the troops which he 
had withdrawn to advance again upon the city of 
Urbino and take possession of it. But suddenly, 
on the 1 2th, a messenger from Guidobaldo rode into 
Urbino to announce their duke's return within a 


few days to defend the subjects who had shown 
themselves so loyal to him. This, the shifty con- 
federates accounted, must be done with the support 
of Venice, whence they concluded that Venice 
must have declared against Valentinois, and again 
they treacherously changed sides. 

The Orsini proceeded to prompt action. Assured 
of their return to himself, and counting upon their 
support in Urbino, Cesare had contented himself 
with sending thither a small force of 100 lances and 
200 light horse. Upon these fell the Orsini, and put 
them to utter rout at Calmazzo, near Fossombrone, 
capturing Ugo di Moncada, who commanded one 
of the companies, but missing Michele da Corella, 
who contrived to escape to Fossombrone. 

The conquerors entered Urbino that evening, and, 
as if to put it on record that they burnt their boats 
with Valentinois, Paolo Orsini wrote that same night 
to the Venetian Senate advices of the victory won. 
There days later — on October 18 — Guidobaldo, ac- 
companied by his nephews Ottaviano Fregioso and 
Gianmaria Varano, re-entered his capital amid the 
cheers and enthusiasm of his loyal and loving people. 

Vitelli made haste to place his artillery at Guido- 
baldo's disposal for the reduction of Cagli, Per- 
gola, and Fossombrone, which were still held for 
Valentinois, whilst Oliverotto da Fermo went with 
Gianmaria Varano to attempt the reconquest of 
Camerino, and Gianpaolo Baglioni to Fano, which, 
however, he did not attempt to enter as an enemy 
— an idle course, seeing how loyally the town held 
for Cesare — but as a ducal condottiero. 

Fired by Orsini's example, Bentivogli also took the 
offensive, and began by ordering the canonists of 
Bologna University to go to the churches and en- 
courage the people to disregard the excommunications 
launched against the city. He wrote to the King 
of France to complain that Cesare had broken the 


Treaty of Villafontana by which he had undertaken 
never again to molest Bologna — naively ignoring 
the circumstance that he himself had been the first 
to violate the terms of that same treaty, and that it 
was precisely upon such grounds that Cesare was 
threatening him. 

Thus matters stood, the confederates turning anxious 
eyes towards Venice, and, haply, beginning to wonder 
whether the Republic was indeed going to move to 
their support as they had so confidently expected, 
and realizing perhaps by now their rashness, and the 
ruin that awaited them should Venice fail them. 
And fail them Venice did. The Venetians had received 
a reply from Louis XII to that letter in which they 
had heaped odium upon the Borgia and shown the 
king what dishonour to himself dwelt in his alliance 
with Valentinois. Their criticisms and accusations 
were ignored in that reply, which resolved itself into 
nothing more than a threat that " if they opposed 
themselves to the enterprise of the Church they 
would be treated by him as enemies," and of this 
letter he sent Cesare a copy, as Cesare himself told 

So, whilst Valentinois in Imola was able to breathe 
more freely, the condottieri in Urbino may well 
have been overcome with horror at their position 
and at having been thus left in the lurch by Venice. 
None was better aware than Pandolfo Petrucci of 
the folly of their action and of the danger that now 
impended, and he sent his secretary to Valentinois 
to say that if the duke would but reassure them on 
the score of his intentions they would return to him 
and aid him in recovering what had been lost. 

Following upon this message came Paolo Orsini 
himself to Imola on the 25th, disguised as a courier, 
and having first taken the precaution of obtaining 
a safe-conduct. He left again on the 29th, bearing 
with him a treaty the terms of which had been agreed 


between himself and Cesare during that visit. These 
were that Cesare should engage to protect the States 
of all his allied condottieri, and they to serve him 
and the Church in return. A special convention 
was to follow, to decide the matter of the Bentivogli, 
which should be resolved by Cesare, Cardinal Orsini, 
and Pandolfo Petrucci in consultation, their judg- 
ment to be binding upon all. 

Cesare's contempt for the Orsini and the rest of the 
shifty men who formed that confederacy— that '' diet 
of bankrupts," as he had termed it — was expressed 
plainly enough to Macchiavelli. 

" To-day," said he, " Messer Paolo is to visit me, 
and to-morrow there will be the cardinal ; and thus 
they think to befool me, at their pleasure. But I, 
on my side, am only dallying with them. I listen 
to all they have to say and bide my own time." 

Later, Macchiavelli was to remember those words, 
which meanwhile afforded him matter for reflection. 

As Paolo Orsini rode away from Imola, the duke's 
secretary, Gherardi, followed and overtook him to 
say that Cesare desired to add to the treaty another 
clause — one relating to the King of France. To this 
Paolo Orsini refused to consent, but, upon being 
pressed in the matter by Gherardi, went so far as to 
promise to submit the clause to the others. 

On October 30 Cesare published a notice in the 
Romagna, intimating the return to obedience on 
the part of his captains. 

Macchiavelli was mystified by this, and apprehensive 
— as men will be of the things they cannot fathom — 
of what might be reserved in it for Florence. It 
was Gherardi who reassured him, laughing in the face 
of the crafty Florentine, as he informed him that even 
children should come to smile at such a treaty as this. 
He added that he had gone after Paolo Orsini to beg 
the addition of another clause, intentionally omitted 
by the duke. 


" If they accept that clause," concluded Messer 
Agabito, " it will open a window ; if they refuse it, a 
door, by which the duke can issue from the treaty." 

Macchiavelli's wonder increased. But the subject 
of it now was that the condottieri should be hood- 
winked by a document in such terms, and well may he 
have bethought him then of those words which Cesare 
had used to him a few days earlier. 



It really seemed as if the condottieri were determined 
to make their scoreasheavyaspossible. For even whilst 
Paolo Orsini had been on his mission of peace to Cesare, 
and whilst they awaited his return, they had continued 
in arms against the duke. The Vitelli had aided 
Guidobaldo to reconquer his territory, and had killed, 
in the course of doing so, Bartolomeo da Capranica, 
Cesare's most valued captain and Vitelli's brother- 
in-arms of yesterday. The Baglioni were pressing 
Michele da Corella in Pesaro, but to little purpose ; 
whilst the butcher Oliverotto da Fermo in Camerino 
— of which he had taken possession with Gianmaria 
Varano — was slaughtering every Spaniard he could 

On the other side, Corella in Pesaro hanged five 
men whom he caught practising against the duke's 
government, and, having taken young Pietro Varano — 
who was on his way to join his brother in Camerino 
in view of the revolt there — he had him strangled in 
the market-place. There is a story that, with life 
not yet extinct, the poor youth was carried into church 
by the pitiful crowd. But here a friar, discovering 
that he still lived, called in the soldiers and bade them 
finish him. This friar, going later through Cagli, 
was recognized, set upon by a mob, and torn to pieces 
— in which, if the rest of the tale be true, he was richly 

Into the theatre of bloodshed came Paolo Orsini 



from his mission to Valentinois, bringing with him 
the treaty for signature by the condottieri. Ac- 
customed as they were to playing fast and loose, 
they opined that, so far as Urbino was concerned, 
enough changes of government had they contrived 
there already. Vitelli pointed out the unseemliness 
of once again deposing Guidobaldo, whom they had 
just reseated upon his throne. Besides, he perceived 
in the treaty the end of his hopes of a descent upon 
Florence, which was the cause of all his labours. So 
he rejected it. 

But Valentinois had already got the Orsini and Pan- 
dolfo Petrucci on his side, and so the confederacy was 
divided. Another factor came to befriend the duke. 
On November 2 he was visited by Antonio Galeazzo 
Bentivogli, sent by his father Giovanni to propose 
a treaty with him — this state of affairs having been 
brought about by the mediation of Ercole d'Este. 
From the negotiations that followed it resulted that, 
on the 13th, the Orsini had word from Cesare that 
he had entered into an alliance with the Bentivogli 
— which definitely removed their main objection to 
bearing arms with him. 

It was resigning much on Cesare's part, but the 
treaty, after all, was only for two years, and might, 
of course, be broken before then, as they understood 
these matters. This treaty was signed at the Vati- 
can on the 23rd, between Borgia and Bentivogli, to 
guarantee the States of both. The King of France, 
the Signory of Florence, and the Duke of Ferrara 
guaranteed the alliance. 

Inter alia, it was agreed between them that Bologna 
should supply Cesare with 100 lances and 200 light 
horse for one or two enterprises within the year, 
and that the condotta of 100 lances which Cesare held 
from Bologna by the last treaty should be renewed. 
The terms of the treaty were to be kept utterly secret 
for the next three months, so that the affairs of Urbino 


and Camerino should not be prejudiced by their 

The result was instantaneous. On November 27 
Paolo Orsini was back at Imola with the other treaty, 
which bore now the signatures of all the confederates. 
Vitelli, finding himself isolated, had swallowed his 
chagrin in the matter of Florence, and his scruples in 
the matter of Urbino, abandoning the unfortunate 
Guidobaldo to his fate. This came swiftly. From 
Imola, Paolo Orsini rode to Fano on the 29th, and 
ordered his men to advance upon Urbino and seize the 
city in the Duke of Valentinois's namS, proclaiming a 
pardon for all rebels who would be submissive. 

Guidobaldo and the ill-starred Lord of Faenza 
were the two exceptions in Romagna — the only two 
who had known how to win the affections of their 
subjects. For Guidobaldo there was nothing that 
the men of Urbino would not have done. They rallied 
to him now, and the women of Valbone — like the 
ladies of England to save Coeur-de-Lion — came with 
their jewels and trinkets, offering them that he might 
have the means to levy troops and resist. But this 
gentle, kindly Guidobaldo could not subject his country 
to further ravages of war ; and so he determined, in 
his subjects' interests as much as in his own, to depart 
for the second time. 

Early in December the Orsini troops are in his 
territory, and Paolo, halting them a few miles out of 
Urbino, sends to beg Guidobaldo's attendance in 
his camp. Guidobaldo, crippled by gout and unable 
at the time to walk a step, sends Paolo his excuses and 
begs that he will come to Urbino, where he awaits him. 
There Guidobaldo makes formal surrender to him, 
takes leave of his faithful friends, enjoins fidelity to 
Valentinois and trust in God, and so on December 19 
he departs into exile, the one pathetic noble figure 
amid so many ignoble ones. Paolo, taking possession 
of the duchy, assumes the title of governor. 



The Florentines had had their chance of an alliance 
with Cesare, and had deliberately neglected it. Early 
in November they had received letters from the King 
of France urging them to come to an accord with 
Cesare, and they had made known to the duke that 
they desired to reoccupy Pisa and to assure themselves 
of Vitelli ; but, when he pressed that Florence should 
give him a condotta, Macchiavelli — following his 
instructions not to commit the Republic in any way — 
had answered '' that his Excellency must not be 
considered as other lords, but as a new potentate in 
Italy, with whom it is more seemly to make an alliance 
or a friendship than to grant him a condotta ; and, 
as alliances are maintained by arms, and that is the 
only power to compel their observance, the Signory 
could not perceive what security they would have 
when three-quarters or three-fifths of their arms 
would be in the duke's hands." Macchiavelli added 
diplomatically that " he did not say this to impugn 
the duke's good faith, but to show him that princes 
should be circumspect and never enter into anything 
that leaves a possibility of their being put at a dis- 
advantage." ^ 

Cesare answered him calmly (" senza segno d'alter- 
azione alcuna ") that without a condotta, he didn't 
know what to make of a private friendship whose 
first principles were denied him. And there the 
matter hung, for Macchiavelli' s legation had for only 
aim to ensure the immunity of Tuscany and to safe- 
guard Florentine interests without conceding any 
advantages to Cesare — as the latter had perceived 
from the first. 

On December lo Cesare moved from Imola with 
his entire army, intent now upon the conquest of 
Sinigaglia, which State Giuliano della Rovere had been 
unable to save for his nephew, as king and Pope had 

* See the twenty-first letter from Macchiavelli on this legation. 


alike turned a deaf ear upon the excuses he had sought 
to make for the Prefetessa, Giovanna da Montefeltre 
— the mother of the young prefect — who had aided 
her brother Guidobaldo in the late war in Urbino. 

On the morrow Valentinois arrived in Cesena 
and encamped his army there for Christmas, as in 
the previous year. The country was beginning to 
feel the effects of this prolonged vast military occu- 
pation, and although the duke, with intent to relieve 
the people, had done all that was possible to provision 
the troops, and had purchased from Venice 30,000 
bushels of wheat for the purpose, yet all had been 
consumed. " The very stones have been eaten," 
says Macchiavelli. 

To account for this state of things — and possibly 
for certain other matters — Messer Ramiro de Lorqua, 
the Governor-General, was summoned from Pesaro ; 
whilst to avert the threatened famine Cesare ordered 
that the cereals in the private granaries of Cesena 
should be sold at reduced prices, and he further pro- 
ceeded, at heavy expense, to procure grain from 
without. Another, less far-seeing than Valentinois, 
might have made capital out of Urbino's late rebellion, 
and pillaged the country to provide for pressing needs. 
But that would have been opposed to Cesare's policy, 
of fostering the goodwill of the people he subjected. 

On December 20 three of the companies of French 
lances that had been with Cesare took their leave of 
him and returned to Lombardy, so that Cesare was 
left with only one company. There appears to be some 
confusion as to the reasons for this, and it is stated by 
some that those companies were recalled to Milan 
by the French governor. Macchiavelli, ever inquisitive 
and inquiring, questioned one of the French officers 
in the matter, to be told that the lances were returning 
because the duke no longer needed them, the in- 
ference being that this was in consequence of the return 
of the condottieri to their allegiance. But the astute 


secretary did not at the time account this convincing, 
arguing that the duke could not yet be said to be 
secure, nor could he know for certain how far he might 
trust Vitelli and the Orsini. Presumably, however, 
he afterwards obtained more certain information, 
for he says later that Valentinois himself dismissed 
the French, and that the dismissal was part of the 
stratagem he was preparing, and had for object to 
reassure Vitelli and the other confederates, and to 
throw them off their guard, by causing them to suppose 
him indifferently supported. 

But the departure of the French did not take place 
without much discussion being provoked, and rumour 
making extremely busy, whilst it was generally assumed 
that it would retard the Sinigaglia conquest. Never- 
theless, the duke calmly^ pursued his preparations, 
and proceeded now to send forward his artillery. 
There was no real ground upon which to assume that 
he would adopt any other course. Cesare was now 
in considerable strength, apart from French lances, 
and even as these left him he was joined by a thousand 
Swiss, and another six hundred Romagnuoli from 
the Val di Lamone. Moreover, as far as the reduction 
of Sinigaglia was concerned, no resistance was to be 
expected, for Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere had 
written enjoining the people to surrender peacefully 
to the duke. 

What matters Cesare may have found in Cesena 
to justify the arrest of his Governor-General we do 
not know to the full with absolute certainty. On 
December 22 Ramiro de Lorqua, coming from Pesaro 
in response to his master's summons, was arrested on 
his arrival and flung into prison. His examination 
was to follow. 

Macchiavelli, reporting the arrest, says : " It is 
thought he [Cesare] may sacrifice him to the 
people, who have a very great desire of it." 


Ramiro had made himself detested in Romagna 
by the ruthlessness of his rule, and a ruthless servant 
reflects upon his master, a matter which could nowise 
suit Borgia. To all who have read ^he Prince it 
will be clear that upon that ground alone — of having 
brought Valentinois's justice into disrepute by the 
harshness which in Valentinois's name he practised — 
Macchiavelli would have approved the execution of 
Ramiro. He would have accounted it perfectly 
justifiable that Ramiro should be sacrificed to the 
people for no better reason than because he had pro- 
voked their hatred, since this sacrifice made for 
the duke's welfare. He does, as a matter of fact, 
justify this execution, but upon much fuller grounds 
than these. Still, had the reasons been no better than 
are mentioned, he would still have justified it upon 
those. So much is clear ; and, when so much is clear, 
much more will be clear to you touching this strange 

There was, however, more than a matter of sacri- 
ficing the Governor-General to the hatred of the 
people. There was, for one thing, the matter of 
that wheat which had disappeared. Ramiro was 
charged with having fraudulently sold it to his own 
dishonest profit, putting the duke to the heavy ex- 
pense of importing fresh supplies for the nourishment 
of the people. The seriousness of the charge will be 
appreciated when it is considered that, had a famine 
resulted from this peculation, grave disorder might 
have ensued and perhaps even a rebellion against a 
government which could provide no better. 

The duke published the news of the governor's 
arrest throughout Romagna. He announced his dis- 
pleasure and regret at the harshnesses and corrupt 
practices of Ramiro de Lorqua, in spite of the most 
urgent admonishings that he should refrain from all 
undue exactions and the threat of grave punishment 
should he disobey. These frauds, corruption, ex- 


tortion, and rapine practised hy the governor were 
so grave, continuous and general, stated the duke in 
his manifesto, that " there is no city, country-side, 
or castle, nor any place in all Romagna, nor officer 
or minister of the duke's, v^ho does not know of these 
abuses ; and, amongst others, the famine of wheat 
occasioned by the traffic which he held against our 
express prohibition, sending out such quantities as 
would abundantly have sufficed for the people and the 

He concludes with assurances of his intention that, 
in the future, they shall be ruled with justice and 
integrity, and he urges all who may have charges 
to prefer against the said governor to bring them 
forward immediately. 

It was freely rumoured that the charges against 
Ramiro by no means ended there, and in Bologna 
— and from Bologna the truth of such a matter might 
well transpire, all things considered — it was openly 
said that Ramiro had been in secret treaty with the 
Bentivogli, Orsini, and Vitelli, against the Duke of 
Valentinois : " Aveva provixione da Messer Zoane 
Bentivogli e da Orsini e Vitelozo contro el duca," 
writes Fileno della Tuate, who, it will be borne in 
mind, was no friend of the Borgia, and would be at no 
pains to find justification for the duke's deeds. 

But of that secret treaty there was, for the moment, 
no official mention. Later the rumour of it was to 
receive the fullest confirmation, and, together with 
that, we shall give, in the next chapter, the duke's 
obvious reasons for having kept the matter secret 
at first. Matter enough and to spare was there 
already upon which to dispose of Messer Ramiro 
de Lorqua and disposed of he was, with the most 
summary justice. 

On the morning of December 26 the first folk to 
be astir in Cesena beheld, in the grey light of that 
wintry dawn^ the body of Ramiro lying headless in the 


square. It was richly dressed, with all his ornaments 
upon it, a scarlet cloak about it, and the hands were 
gloved. On a pike beside the body the black-bearded 
head was set up to view, and so remained throughout 
that day, a terrible display of the swift and pitiless 
justice of the duke. 

Macchiavelli wrote : " The reason of his death is 
not properly known " (" non si sa bene la cagione della 
sua morte") "beyond the fact that such was the 
pleasure of the prince, who shows us that he can make 
and unmake men according to their deserts." 

The Cronica Civitas Faventice, the Diarium Cce- 
senate, and the Cronache Forlivese, all express the 
people's extreme satisfaction at the deed, and endorse 
the charges of brutality against the man which are 
contained in Cesare's letter. 



Cesare left Cesena very early on the morning of 
December 26 — the morning of Ramiro's execution — 
and by the 29th he was at Fano, where he received 
the envoys who came from Ancona with protestations 
of loyalty, as well as a messenger from Vitellozzo 
Vitelli, who brought him news of the surrender of 
Sinigaglia. The citadel itself was still being held 
by Andrea Doria — the same who was afterwards to 
become so famous in Genoa ; this, it was stated, was 
solely because Doria desired to make surrender to the 
duke himself. The Prefectress, Giovanna da Monte- 
feltre, had already departed from the city, which she 
ruled as regent for her eleven-year old boy, and had 
gone by sea to Venice. 

The duke returned answer to Vitelli that he would 
be in Sinigaglia himself upon the morrow, and he 
invited the condottieri to receive him there, since 
he was decided to possess himself of the citadel at 
once, whether Doria chose to surrender it peacefully 
or not ; and that, to provide for emergencies, he would 
bring his artillery with him. Lastly, Vitelli was bidden 
to prepare quarters within the new town for the 
troops that would accompany Cesare. To do this it 
was necessary to dispose the soldiers of Oliverotto da 
Fermo in the horgo. These were the only troops 
with the condottieri in Sinigaglia ; the remainder 
of their forces were quartered in the strongholds of 
the territory at distances of from five to seven miles 
of the town. 



On the last day of that year 1502 Cesare Borgia 
appeared before Sinigaglia to receive the homage 
of those men who had used him so treacherously, 
and whom — with the exception of Paolo Orsini — ^he 
now met face to face for the first time since their 
rebellion. Here were Francesco Orsini, Duke of 
Gravina, with Paolo and the latter's son Fabio ; 
here was Oliverotto, the ruffianly Lord of Fermo, 
who had won his lordship by the cold-blooded 
murder of his kinsman, and concerning whom a 
rumour ran in Rome that Cesare had sworn to choke 
him with his own hands ; and here was Vitellozzo 
Vitelli, the arch-traitor of them all. 

Gianpaolo Baglioni was absent through illness — 
a matter less fatal to him than was their health to 
those who were present — and the Cardinal and Giulio 
Orsini were in Rome. 

Were these captains mad to suppose that such a man 
as Cesare Borgia could so forget the wrong they had 
done him, and forgive them in this easy fashion, 
exacting no amends ? Were they mad to suppose 
that, after such proofs as they had given him of what 
manner of faith they kept, he would trust them 
hereafter with their lives to work further mischief 
against him ? (Well might Macchiavelli have mar- 
velled when he beheld the terms of the treaty the 
duke had made with them.) W^ere they mad to 
imagine that one so crafty as Valentinois would so 
place himself into their hands — the hands of men 
who had sworn his ruin and death ? Truly, mad 
they must have been — rendered so by the gods 
who would destroy them. 

The tale of that happening is graphically told by 
the pen of the admiring Macchiavelli, who names the 
affair " II Bellissimo Inganno." That he so named 
it should suffice us and restrain us from criticisms 
of our own, accepting that criticism of his. To us, 
judged from our modern standpoint, the affair of 


Sinigaglia is the last word in treachery and iscariotism. 
But you are here concerned with the standpoint of 
the Cinquecento, and that standpoint Macchiavelli 
gives you when he describes this business as " the 
beautiful stratagem." To offer judgment in despite 
of that is to commit a fatuity, which too often al- 
ready has been committed. 

Here, then, is Macchiavelli's story of the event : 

On the morning of December 31 Cesare's army, 
composed of 10,000 foot and 3,000 horse,^ was drawn 
up on the banks of the River Metauro — some five 
miles from Sinigaglia — in accordance with his orders, 
awaiting his arrival. He came at daybreak, and im- 
mediately ordered forward 200 lances under the com- 
mand of Don Michele da Corella ; he bade the foot 
to march after these, and himself brought up the 
rear with the main body of the horse. 

In Sinigaglia, as we have seen, the condottieri had 
only the troops of Oliverotto — 1,000 foot and 150 
horse — which had been quartered in the borgo^ 
and were now drawn up in the market-place, Oliverotto 
at their head, to do honour to the duke. 

As the horse under Don Michele gained the little 
river Misa and the bridge that spanned it, almost 
directly opposite to the gates of Sinigaglia, their captain 
halted them and drew them up into two files, be- 
tween which a lane was opened. Through this 
the foot went forward and straight into the town, 
and after came Cesare himself, a graceful, youthful 
figure, resplendent in full armour at the head of 
his lances. To meet him advanced now the three 
Orsini and Vitellozzo Vitelli. Macchiavelli tells us 
of the latter's uneasiness, of his premonitions of evil, 
and the farewells (all of which Macchiavelli had after- 
wards heard reported) which he had taken of his 

1 This is Macchiavelli's report of the forces ; but it appears to 
be an exaggeration, for, upon leaving Cesena, Cesare does not appear 
to have commanded more than 10,000 men in all. 


family before coming to Sinigaglia. Probably these 
are no more than the stories that grow up about such 
men after such an event as that which was about to 

The condottieri came unarmed, Vitelli mounted 
on a mule, wearing a cloak with a green lining. In 
that group he is the only man deserving of any respect 
or pity — a victim of his sense of duty to his family, 
driven to his rebellion and faithlessness to Valentinois 
by his consuming desire to avenge his brother's death 
upon the Florentines. The others were poor creatures, 
incapable even of keeping faith with one another. 
Paolo Orsini was actually said to be in secret concert 
with Valentinois since his mission to him at Imola, 
and to have accepted heavy bribes from him. Oli- 
verotto you have seen at work, making a holocaust 
of his family and friends under the base spur of his 
cupidity ; whilst of the absent ones, Pandolfo Petrucci 
alone was a man of any steadfastness and honesty. 

The duke's reception of them was invested with 
that gracious friendliness of which none knew the 
art better than did he, intent upon showing them 
that the past was forgiven and their offences against 
himself forgotten. As they turned and rode with him 
through the gates of Sinigaglia some of the duke's 
gentlemen hemmed them about in the preconcerted 
manner, lest even now they should be taken with 
alarm. But it was all done unostentatiously and with 
every show of friendliness, that no suspicions should be 

From the group Cesare had missed Oliverotto, 
and as they now approached the market-square, 
where the Tyrant of Fermo sat on his horse at the 
head of his troops, Cesare made a sign with his eyes 
to Don Michele, the purport of which was plain to 
the captain. He rode ahead to suggest to Oliverotto 
that this was no time to have his men under arms and 
out of their lodgings, and to point out to him that, 


if they were not dismissed they would be in danger 
of having their quarters snatched from them by the 
duke's men, from which trouble might arise. To 
this he added that the duke was expecting his lordship. 

Oliverotto, persuaded, gave the order for the dis- 
missal of his troops, and the duke, coming up at that 
moment, called to him. In response he went to greet 
him, and fell in thereafter with the others who were 
riding with Valentinois. 

In amiable conversation with them all, and riding 
between Vitelli and Francesco Orsini, the duke passed 
from the borgo into the town itself, and so to the 
palace, where the condottieri disposed to take their 
leave of him. But Cesare was not for parting with 
them yet ; he bade them in with him, and they per- 
force must accept his invitation. Besides, his mood 
was so agreeable that surely there could be nought 
to fear. 

But scarce were they inside when his manner changed 
of a sudden, and at a sign from him they were instantly 
overpowered and arrested by those gentlemen of his 
own who were of the party and who came to it well 
schooled in what they were to do. 

Buonaccorsi compiled his diary carefully from the 
letters of Macchiavelli to the Ten, in so far as this 
and other affairs are concerned ; and to Buonaccorsi 
we must now turn for what immediately follows, 
which is no doubt from MacchiaVelli's second letter 
of December 31, in which the full details of the affair 
are given. His first letter no more than briefly states 
the happening ; the second unfortunately is missing ; 
so that the above particulars — and some yet to follow 
— are culled from the relations which he afterwards 
penned (" Del modo tenuto," etc.), edited, however, 
by the help of his dispatches at the time in regard 
to the causes which led to the affair. Between these 
and the actual relation there are some minor dis- 
crepancies. Unquestionably the dispatches are the 


more reliable, so that, where such discrepancies occur, 
the version in the dispatches has been preferred. 

To turn for a moment to Buonaccorsi, he tells 
us that, as the Florentine envoy (who was, of course, 
Macchiavelli) following the Duke of Valentinois 
entered the town later, after the arrest of the con- 
dottieri, and found all uproar and confusion, he re- 
paired straight to the palace to ascertain the truth. 
As he approached he met the duke, riding out in 
full armour to quell the rioting and restrain his 
men, who were by now all out of hand and pillaging 
the city. Cesare, perceiving the secretary, reined in 
and called him. 

" This," he said, " is what I wanted to tell Mon- 
signor di Volterra [Soderini] when he came to Urbino, 
but I could not entrust him with the secret. Now 
that my opportunity has come, I have known very 
well how to make use of it, and I have done a great 
service to your masters." 

And with that Cesare left him, and, calling his 
captains about him, rode down into the town to put 
an end to the horrors that were being perpetrated 

Immediately upon the arrest of the condottieri 
Cesare had issued orders to attack the soldiers of 
Vitelli and Orsini, and to dislodge them from the 
castles of the territory where they were quartered, 
and similarly to dislodge Oliverotto's men and drive 
them out of Sinigaglia. This had been swiftly ac- 
complished. But the duke's men were not disposed 
to leave matters at that. Excited by the taste of 
battle that had been theirs, they returned to wreak 
their fury upon the town, and were proceeding to 
put it to sack, directing particular attention to the 
wealthy quarter occupied by the Venetian merchants, 
which is said to have been plundered by them to the 
extent of some 20^000 ducats. They would have 
made an end of Sinigaglia but for the sudden appear- 


ance amongst them of the duke himself. He rode 
through the streets, angrily ordering the pillage to 
cease ; and, to show how much he was in earnest, with 
his own hands he cut down some who were insolent 
or slow to obey him ; thus, before dusk, he had re- 
stored order and quiet. 

As for the condottieri^ Vitelli and Olivcrotto were 
dealt with that very night. There is a story that 
Oliverotto, seeing that was all lost, drew a dagger 
and would have put it through his heart to save him- 
self from dying at the hands of the hangman. If 
it is true, then that was his last show of spirit. He 
turned craven at the end, and protested tearfully 
to his judges — for a trial was given them — that the 
fault of all the wrong wrought against the duke lay 
with his brother-in-law, Vitellozzo. More wonder- 
ful was it that the grim Vitelli's courage also should 
break down at the end, and that he should beg that 
the Pope be implored to grant him a plenary in- 
dulgence and that his answer be awaited. 

But at dawn — the night having been consumed in 
their trial — they were placed back to back, and so 
strangled, and their bodies were taken to the church 
of the Misericordia Hospital. 

The Orsini were not dealt with just yet. They 
were kept prisoners, and Valentinois would go no 
further until he should have heard from Rome that 
Giulio Orsini and the powerful cardinal were also 
under arrest. To put to death at present the men 
in his power might be to alarm and so lose the others. 
They are right who say that his craft was devilish ; 
but what else was to be expected of the times ? 

On the morrow — January i, 1503 — the duke issued 
dispatches to the Powers of Italy giving his account 
of the deed. It set forth that the Orsini and their 
confederates, notwithstanding the pardon accorded 
them for their first betrayal and revolt, upon 
learning of the departure of the French lances — and 


concluding that the duke was thereby weakened, and 
left with only a few followers of no account — had 
plotted a fresh and still greater treachery. Under 
pretence of assisting him in the taking of Sinigaglia, 
whither it was known that he was going, they had 
assembled there in their full strength, but displaying 
only one-third of it, and concealing the remainder 
in the castles of the surrounding country. They 
had then agreed with the castellan of Sinigaglia, 
that on that night they should attack him on every 
side of the new town, which, being small, could 
contain, as they knew, but few of his people. This 
treachery coming to his knowledge, he had been 
able to forestall it, and, entering Sinigaglia with all 
his troops, he had seized the traitors and taken the 
forces of Oliverotto by surprise. He concluded by 
exhorting all to render thanks unto God that an end 
was set to the many calamities suffered in Italy in 
consequence of those malignant ones.^ 

For once Cesare Borgia is heard giving his own side 
of an affair. But are the particulars of his version 
true ? Who shall say positively ? His statement 
is not by any means contrary to the known facts, 
although it sets upon them an explanation rather 
different to that afforded us by Macchiavelli. But it 
is to be remembered that, after all, Macchiavelli 
had to fall back upon the inferences which he drew 
from what he beheld, and that there is no scrap of 
evidence directly to refute any one of Cesare's state- 
ments. There is even confirmation of the statement 
that the condottieri conceived that he was weakened 
by the departure of the French lances and left with 
only a few followers of no account. For Macchiavelli 
himself dwells upon the artifice with which Cesare 
broke up his forces and disposed of them in compara- 
tively small numbers here and there to the end that 

* See this letter in the documents appended to Alvisi's Cesare 
Borgia, document yS. 


his full strength should remain concealed ; and he 
admires the strategy of that proceeding. 

Certainly the duke's narrative tends to increase 
his justification for acting as he did. But at best it 
can only increase it, for the actual justification was 
always there, and by the light of his epoch it is difficult 
to see how he should be blamed. These men had 
openly sworn to have his life, and from what has been 
seen of them there is little reason to suppose they 
would not have kept their word had they but been 
given the opportunity. 

In connection with Cesare's version, it is well to 
go back for a moment to the execution of Ramiro 
de Lorqua, and to recall the alleged secret motives 
that led to it. Macchiavelli himself was not satis- 
fied that all was disclosed, and that the governor's 
harshness and dishonesty had been the sole causes 
of the justice done upon him. " The reason of his 
death is not properly known," wrote the Florentine 
secretary. Another envoy of that day would ha/e 
filled his dispatches with the rumours that were 
current, with the matters that were being whispered 
at street corners. But Macchiavelli's habit was to 
disregard rumours as a rule, knowing their danger — 
a circumstance which renders his evidence the most 
valuable which we possess. 

It is perhaps permissible to ask : What dark 
secrets had the torture of the cord drawn from Messer 
Ramiro ? Had these informed the duke of the true 
state of affairs at Sinigaglia, and had the knowledge 
brought him straight from Cesena to deal with the 
matter ? 

There is justification for these questions, inasmuch 
as on January 4 the Pope related to Giustiniani — 
for which see his dispatches — that Ramiro de Lorqua, 
being sentenced to death, stated that he desired to 
inform the duke of certain matters, and informed 
him that he had concerted with the Orsini to give 

(From the fresco by Bernardino Luini.) 

Montabone photo. 



the latter the territory of Cesena ; but that, as this 
could not now be done, in consequence of Cesare's 
treaty with the condottieri, Vitelli had arranged to 
kill the duke, in which design he had the concurrence 
of Oliverotto. They had planned that a crossbow- 
man should shoot the duke as he rode into Sinigaglia, 
in consequence of which the duke took great care 
of himself and never put off his armour until the affair 
was over. Vitellozzo, the Pope said, had confessed 
before he died that all that Ramiro had told the duke 
was true, and at the Consistory of January 6, when the 
Sacred College begged for the release of the old Car- 
dinal Orsini — who had been taken with the Archbishop 
of Florence, Giacomo di Santacroce, and Gianbattista 
da Virginio — the Pope answered by informing the 
cardinals of this plot against the duke's life. 

These statements by Cesare and his father are per- 
fectly consistent with each other and with the events. 
Yet, for want of independent confirmation, they are 
not to be insisted upon as affording the true version 
— as, of course, the Pope may have urged what he 
did as a pretext to justify what was yet to follow. 

It is readily conceivable that Ramiro, under torture, 
or in the hope perhaps of saving his life, may have 
betrayed the alleged plot to murder Cesare. And it 
is perfectly consistent with Cesare's character and 
with his age that he should have entered into a bar- 
gain to learn what Ramiro might have to disclose, 
and then have repudiated it and given him to the 
executioner. If Cesare, under such circumstances as 
these, had learnt what was contemplated, he would 
very naturally have kept silent on the score of it until 
he had dealt with the condo Uteri. To do otherwise 
might be to forewarn them. He was, as Macchiavelli 
says, a secret man, and the more dangerous for his 
closeness, since he never let it be known what he 
intended until he had executed his designs. 

Guicciardini, of course, has called the Sinigaglia affair 



a villainy (" scelleragine ") whilst Fabio Orsini and 
a nephew of Vitelli's who escaped from Sinigaglia 
and arrived two days. later at Perugia, sought to 
engage sympathy by mfeans of an extraordinary tale, 
so alien to all the facts — apart from their obvious 
reasons to lie and provoke resentment against Cesare — 
as not to be worth citing. 



Andrea Doria did not remain to make formal sur- 
render of the citadel of Sinigaglia to the duke — 
for which purpose, be it borne in mind, had Cesare 
been invited, indirectly, to come to Sinigaglia. He 
fled during the night that saw Vitelli and Oliverotto 
writhing their last in the strangler's hands. And 
his flight adds colour to the versions of the affair 
that were afforded the world by Cesare and his father. 
Andrea Doria, waiting to surrender his trust, had 
nothing to fear from the duke, no reason to do any- 
thing but remain. Andrea Doria, intriguing against 
the duke's life with the condottieri, finding them 
seized by the duke, and inferring that all was discovered, 
had every reason to fly. 

The citadel made surrender on that New Year's 
morning, when Cesare summoned it to do so, whilst 
the troops of the Orsini and Vitelli lodged in the castles 
of the territory, being taken unawares, were speedily 
disposed of. So, there being nothing more left to do in 
Sinigaglia, Cesare once more marshalled his men 
and set out for Citt^ di Castello — the tyranny of 
the Vitelli, which he found undefended and of which 
he took possession in the name of the Church. Thence 
he pushed on towards Perugia, for he had word that 
Guidobaldo of Urbino, Fabio Orsini, Annibale and 
Venanzio Varano, and Vitelli's nephew were assem- 
bled there under the. wing of Gianpaolo Baglioni, 
who, with a considerable condotta at his back, was 



making big talk of resisting the Duke of Romagna 
and Valentinois. In this, Gianpaolo persevered most 
bravely until he had news that the duke was as near 
as Gualdo, when precipitately he fled — leaving his 
guests to shift for themselves. He had remembered, 
perhaps, at the last moment how narrow an escape 
he had had of it at Sinigaglia, and he repaired to 
Siena to join Pandolfo Petrucci, who had been equally 
fortunate in that connection. 

To meet the advancing and irresistible duke came 
ambassadors from Perugia with smooth words of wel- 
come, the offer of the city, and their thanks for his 
having delivered them of the tyrants that oppressed 
them ; and there is not the slightest cause to suppose 
that this was mere sycophancy, for a more bloody, 
murderous crew than these Baglioni — whose feuds 
not only with the rival family of the Oddi, but among 
their very selves, had more than once embrued the 
walls of that city in the hills — it would be difficult 
to find in Italy, or anywhere in Europe. The history 
of the Baglioni is one record of slaughter. Under 
their rule in Perugia human blood seems commonly 
to have flowed anywhere more freely than in human 
veins. It is no matter for wonder that the people 
sent their ambassador to thank Cesare for having 
delivered them from the yoke that had oppressed 

Perugia having rendered him her oath of fealty, 
the duke left her his secretary, Agabito Gherardi, 
as his commissioner, whilst sending Vincenzo Calmeta 
to Fermo — Oliverotto's tyranny — another State which 
was very fervent in the thanks it expressed for this 

Scarcely was Cesare gone from Perugia when intb 
the hands of his people fell the person of the Lady 
Panthasilea Baglioni d'Alviano — the wife of the famous 
Venetian condottiero Bartolomeo d'Alviano — and they, 


aware of the feelings prevailing between their lord 
and the Government of Venice, bethought them that 
here was a valuable hostage. So they shut her up 
in the Castle of Todi, together with her children and 
the women who had been with her when she was 

As in the case of Dorotea Caracciolo, the rumour 
is instantly put about that it was Cesare who had 
seized her, that he had taken her to his camp, and that 
this poor woman had fallen a prey to that lustful 
monster. So — and in some such words — ran the 
story, and such a hold did it take upon folks' credulity 
that we see Piero di Bibieno before the Council of 
Ten, laying a more or less formal charge against the 
duke in rather broader terms than are here set down. 
So much, few of those who have repeated his story 
omit to tell you. But for some reason, not obviously 
apparent, they do not think it w^orth while to add that 
the Doge himself — better informed, it is clear, for 
he speaks with finality in the matter — reproved him 
by denying the rumour and definitely stating that it 
was not true, as you may read in the Diary of Marino 
Sanuto. That same diary shows you the husband — a 
person of great consequence in Venice — before the 
Council, clamouring for the enlargement of his lady ; 
yet never once does he mention the name of Valen- 
tinois. The Council of Ten sends an envoy to 
wait upon the Pope ; and the Pope expresses his 
profound regret and his esteem for Alviano, and in- 
forms the envoy that he is writing to Valentinois to 
demand her instant release — in fact, shows the envoy 
the letter. 

To that same letter the duke replied on January 29 
that he had known nothing of the matter until this 
communication reached him ; that he has since 
ascertained that the lady was indeed captured and 
that she has since been detained in the Castle of Todi 
with all the consideration due to her rank ; and that, 


immediately upon ascertaining this he had commanded 
that she should be set at liberty, which was done. 

And so the Lady Panthasilea returned unharmed 
to her husband. 

In Assisi Cesare received the Florentine ambassador 
Salviati, who came to congratulate the duke upon 
the affair of Sinigaglia and to replace Macchiavelli 
— the latter having been ordered home again. Con- 
gratulations indeed were addressed to him by all those 
Powers that had received his official intimation of 
the event. Amongst these were the felicitations of 
the beautiful and accomplished Isabella d'Este, 
Marchioness of Gonzaga — whose relations with him 
were ever of the friendliest, even when Faenza by its 
bravery evoked her pity — and with these she sent him, 
for the coming carnival, a present of a hundred masks 
of rare variety and singular beauty, because she opined 
that " after the fatigues he had suffered in these 
glorious enterprises, he would desire to contrive for 
some recreation." 

Here in Assisi, too, he received the Siennese envoys 
who came to wait upon him, and he demanded that, 
out of respect for the King of France, they should 
drive out Pandolfo Petrucci from Siena. For, to 
use his own words, *' having deprived his enemies of 
their weapons, he would now deprive them of their 
brain," by which he paid Petrucci the compliment of 
accounting him the " brain " of all that had been 
attempted against him. To show the Siennese how 
much he was in earnest, he leaves all baggage and 
stores at Assisi, and, unhampered, makes one of his 
sudden swoops towards Siena, pausing on January 13 
at Castel della Pieve to publish, at last, his treaty with 
Bentivogli. The latter being now sincere, no doubt 
out of fear of the consequences of further insincerity, 
at once sends Cesare 30 lances and 100 arbalisters 
under the command of Antonio della Volta. 


It was there in Assisi, on the morning of striking 
his camp again, that Cesare completed the work that 
had been begun at Sinigaglia hy having Paolo Orsini 
and the Duke of Gravina strangled. There was no 
cause to delay the matter longer. He had word 
from Rome of the capture of Cardinal Orsini, of 
Gianbattista da Virginio, of Giacomo di Santacroce, 
and Rinaldo Orsini, Archbishop of Florence. 

On January 27, Pandolfo Petrucci being still in 
Siena, and Cesare's patience exhausted, he issued an 
ultimatum from his camp at Sartiano in which he 
declared that if, within twenty-four hours, Petrucci 
had not been expelled from the city, he would loose 
his soldiers upon Siena to devastate the territory, 
and would treat every inhabitant " as a Pandolfo 
and an enemy." 

Siena judged it well to bow before that threaten- 
ing command, and Cesare, seeing himself obeyed, was 
free to depart to Rome, whither the Pope had recalled 
him and where work awaited him. He was required 
to make an end of the resistance of the barons, a task 
which had been entrusted to his brother Giuffredo, 
but which the latter had been unable to carry out. 

In this matter Cesare and his father are said to 
have violently disagreed, and it is reported that high 
words flew between them ; for Cesare — who looked 
ahead and had his own future to consider, which 
should extend beyond the lifetime of Alexander VI — 
would not move against Silvio Savelli in Palombara, 
nor Gian Giordano in Bracciano, alleging, as his reason 
for the latter forbearance, that Gian Giordano, being 
a knight of St. Michael like himself, he was inhibited 
by the terms of that knighthood from levying war 
upon him. To that he adhered, whilst disposing, 
however, to lay siege to Ceri, where Giulio and Gio- 
vanni Orsini had taken refuge. 

In the meantime, the Cardinal Gianbattista Orsini 
had breathed his last in the Castle of Sant' Angelo, 


Soderini had written ironically to Florence on Febru- 
ary 15 : '' Cardinal Orsini, in prison, shows signs of 
frenzy. I leave your Sublimities to conclude, in your 
wisdom, the judgment that is formed of such an 

It was not, however, until a week later — on 
February 22 — that he succumbed, when the cry of 
*' Poison ! " grew so loud and general that the Pope 
ordered the cardinal's body to be carried on a bier 
with the face exposed, that all the world might see 
its calm and the absence of such stains as were believed 
usually to accompany venenation. 

Nevertheless, the opinion spread that he had been 
poisoned — and the poisoning of Cardinal Orsini has 
been included in the long list of the Crimes of the 
Borgias with which we have been entertained. That 
the rumour should have spread is not in the least 
wonderful, considering in what bad odour were the 
Orsini at the Vatican just then, and — be it remem- 
bered — what provocation they had given. Although 
Valentinois dubbed Pandolfo Petrucci the "brain" 
of the conspiracy against him, the real guiding spirit, 
there can be little doubt, was this Cardinal Orsini, 
in whose stronghold at Magione the diet had met 
to plot Valentinois's ruin — the ruin of the Gon- 
falonier of the Church, and the fresh alienation from 
the Holy See of the tyrannies which it claimed for 
its own, and which at great cost had been recovered 
to it. 

Against the Pope, considered as a temporal ruler, that 
was treason in the highest degree, and punishable by 
death ; and, assuming that Alexander did cause the 
death of Cardinal Orsini, the only just censure that 
could fall upon him for the deed concerns the means 
employed. Yet even against that it might be urged 
that thus was the dignity of the purple saved the dis- 
honouring touch of the hangman's hands. 

Some six weeks later — on April 10 — died Giovanni 


Michieli, Cardinal of Sant' Angelo, and Giustiniani, 
the Venetian ambassador, wrote to his Government 
that the cardinal had been ill for only two days, and 
that his illness had been attended by violent sickness. 
This — and the reticence of it — was no doubt intended 
to arouse the suspicion that the cardinal had been 
poisoned. Giustiniani adds that Michieli's house 
was stripped that very night by the Pope, who pro- 
fited thereby to the extent of some 150,000 ducats, 
besides plate and other valuables ; and this was in- 
tended to show an indecent eagerness on the Pope's 
part to possess himself of that which by the cardinal's 
death he inherited, whereas, in truth, the measure 
would be one of wise precaution against the customary 
danger of pillage by the mob. 

But in March of the year 1504, under the pontificate 
of Julius II (Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere) a sub- 
deacon, named Asquino de Colloredo, was arrested 
for defaming the dead cardinal (" interfector bone 
memorie Cardinalis S. Angeli ").^ What other sus- 
picions were entertained against him, what other 
revelations it was hoped to extract from him, cannot 
be said ; but Asquino was put to the question, to 
the usual accompaniment of the torture of the cord, 
and under this he confessed that he had poisoned 
Cardinal Michieli, constrained to it by Pope Alexander 
VI and the Duke of Valentinois, against his will and 
without reward (" verumtamen non voluisse et 
pecunias non habuisse "). 

Now if Asquino defamed the memory of Cardinal 
Michieli it seems to follow naturally that he had hated 
the cardinal ; and, if we know that he hated him, we 
need not marvel that, out of that hatred, he poisoned 
him. But something must have been suspected as 
a motive f6r his arrest in addition to the slanders he 
was uttering, otherwise how came the questions put 
to him to be directed so as to wring from him the 
^ Burchard's Diariunif March 6, 150.^. 


confession that he had poisoned the cardinal ? If 
you choose to believe his further statement that he 
was constrained to it by Pope Alexander and the Duke 
of Valentinois, you are, of course, at liberty to do so. 
But you will do well first to determine precisely what 
degree of credit such a man might be worth when 
seeking to extenuate a fault admitted under pressure 
of the torture — and offering the extenuation likeliest 
to gain him the favour of the della Rovere Pope, 
whose life's task — as we shall see — was the defamation 
of the hated Borgias. You will also do well closely 
to examine the last part of his confession — that he 
was constrained to it " against his will and without 
reward." Would the deed have been so very much 
against the will of one who went about publishing 
his hatred of the dead cardinal by the slanders he 
emitted ? 

Upon such evidence as that the accusation of the 
Pope's murder of Cardinal Michieli has been definitely 
established — and it must be admitted that it is, if 
anything, rather more evidence than is usually forth- 
coming of the vampirism and atrocities alleged against 

Giustiniani, writing to his Government in the 
spring of 1503, informs the Council of Ten that it is 
the Pope's way to fatten his cardinals before dis- 
posing of them — that is to say, enriching them 
before poisoning them, that he may inherit their 
possessions. It was a wild and sweeping statement, 
dictated by political animus, and it has since grown 
to proportions more monstrous than the original. 
You may read usque ad nauseam of the Pope and 
Cesare's constant practice of poisoning cardinals 
who had grown rich, for the purpose of seizing 
their possessions, and you are very naturally filled 
with horror at so much and such abominable 
turpitude. In this matter, assertion — coupled with 
whorling periods of vituperation — have ever been 



considered by the accusers all that was accessary 
to establish the accusations. It has never, for in- 
stance, been considered necessary to cite the names of 
the cardinals composing that regiment of victims. 
That, of course, would be to challenge easy refutation 
of the wholesale charge ; and refutation is not desired 
by those who prefer the sensational manner. 

The omission may, in part at least, be repaired by 
giving a list of the cardinals who died during the eleven 
years of the pontificate of Alexander VL Those 
deaths, in eleven years, number twenty-one — repre- 
senting, incidentally, a percentage that compares 
favourably with any other eleven years of any other 
pontificate or pontificates. They are : 

Ardicino della Porta 
Giovanni de' Conti . 
Domenico della Rovere 
Gonzalo de Mendoza 
Louis Andre d'Epinay 
Gian Giacomo Sclafetano 
Bernardino di Lunati 
Paolo Fregosi 
Gianbattista Savelli 
Giovanni della Grolaye 
Giovanni Borgia 
Bartolomeo Martini 
John Morton 
Battista Zeno 
Juan Lopez . 
Gianbattista Ferrari 
Hurtado de Mendoza 
Gianbattista Orsini 
Giovanni Michieli . 
Giovanni Borgia (Seniore) 
Federico Casimir 

In 1493, 
In 1493, 
In 1494, 
In 1495, 
In 1495, 
In 1496, 
In 1497, 
In 1498, 
In 1498, 
In 1499, 
In 1500, 
In 1500, 
In 1500, 
In 1501, 
In 1501, 
In 1502, 
In 1502, 
In 1503, 
In 1503, 
In 1503, 
In 1503, 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

in Spain 

in France 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Fossombronc 

at Rome 

in England 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

in Spain 

at Rome 

at Rome 

at Rome 

in Poland 

Now, search as you will, not only such contemporary 
records as diaries, chronicles, and dispatches from 
ambassadors in Rome during that period of eleven years 
but also subsequent writings compiled from them, 
and you shall find no breath of scandal attaching to 


the death of seventeen of those cardinals, no suggestion 
that they died other than natural deaths. 

Four remain : Cardinals Giovanni Borgia (Giuni- 
ore), Gianbattista Ferrari (Cardinal of Modena), • 
Gianbattista Orsini, and Giovanni Michieli, all of 
whom the Pope and Cesare have, more or less per- 
sistently, been accused of poisoning. 

Giovanni Borgia's death at Fossombrone has been 
dealt with at length in its proper place, and it has 
been shown how utterly malicious and groundless 
was the accusation. 

Giovanni Michieli's is the case that has just been 
reviewed, and touching which you may form your 
own conclusions. 

Gianbattista Orsini's also has been examined. It 
rests upon rumour ; but even if that rumour be true, 
it is unfair to consider the deed in any but the light 
of a political execution. 

There remains the case of the Cardinal of Modena, 
a man who had amassed enormous wealth in the most 
questionable manner, and who was universally exe- 
crated. The epigrams upon his death, in the form 
of epitaphs, dealt most terribly with '' his ignomini- 
ous memory " — as Burchard has it. Of these the 
Master of Ceremonies collected upwards of a score, 
which he gives in his Diarium. Let one suffice here 
as a fair example of the rest, the one that has it that 
the earth has the cardinal's body, the bull {i.e, the 
Borgia) his wealth, and hell his soul. 

" Hac Janus Baptista jacet Ferrarius urna, 
Terra habuit corpus, Bos bona, Styx animam." 

The only absolutely contemporary suggestion of 
his having been poisoned emanated from the pen of 
that same Giustiniani. He wrote to the Venetian 
Senate to announce the cardinal's death on July 20. 
In his letter he relates how his benefices were imme- 
diately distributed, and how the lion's share fell 


to the cardinal's secretary, Sebastiano Pinzone, and 
that it was said (" e fama ") that this man had received 
them as the price of blood (" in premium sanguinis "), 
'' since it is held, from many evident signs, that the 
cardinal died from poison" ("ex veneno"). 

Already on the nth he had v^ritten : " The Car- 
dinal of Modena lies ill, with little hope of recovery. 
Poison is suspected" ("si dubita di veleno"). 

That was penned on the eighth day of the cardinal's 
sickness, for he was taken ill on the 3rd — as Burchard 
shows. Burchard, further, lays before us the whole 
course of the illness ; tells us how, from the beginning, 
the cardinal refused to be bled or to take medicine 
of any kind, tells us explicitly and positively that the 
cardinal was suffering from a certain fever — so pre- 
valent and deadly in Rome during the months of 
July and August; he informs us that, on the nth 
(the day on which Giustiniani wrote the above-cited 
dispatch), the fever abated, to return on the i6th. 
He was attended (Burchard continues) by many able 
physicians, who strove to induce him to take their 
medicines ; but he refused persistently until the 
following day, when he accepted a small proportion 
of the doses proposed. On July 20 — after an illness 
of seventeen days — he finally expired. 

Those entries in the diary of the Master of Cere- 
monies constitute an incontrovertible document, an 
irrefutable testimony against the charges of poison- 
ing when taken in conjunction with the evidence of 
fact afforded by the length of the illness. 

It is true that, under date of November 20, 1504 
(under the pontificate of Julius H), there is the follow- 
ing entry : 

" Sentence was pronounced in the ' Ruota ' against 
Sebastiano Pinzone, apostolic scribe, contumaciously 
absent, and he was deprived of all benefices and offices 
in that he had caused the death of the Cardinal of 
Modena, his patron, who had raised him from the dust." 


But not even that can shake the conviction that 
must leap to every honest mind from following the 
entries in the diary contemporary with the cardinal's 
decease. They are too circumstantial and conclusive 
to be overthrown by this recorded sentence of the 
Ruota two years later against a man who was not even 
present to defend himself. Besides, it is necessary 
to discriminate. Burchard is not stating opinions 
of his own when he writes '' in that he caused the 
death of the Cardinal of Modena," etc.; he is simply 
— and obviously — recording the finding of the Tri- 
bunal of the Ruota, without comment of his own. 
Lastly, it is as well to observe that in that verdict 
against Pinzone — of doubtful justice as it is — there 
is no mention made of the Borgias. 

The proceedings instituted against Sebastiano Pin- 
zone were of a piece with those instituted against 
Asquino de CoUoredo and others yet to be con- 
sidered ; they were set on foot by Giuliano della 
Rovere — that implacable enemy of the House of 
Borgia — when he became Pope, for the purpose of 
heaping ignominy upon the family of his predecessor. 
But that shall be further dealt with presently. 

Another instance of the unceasing growth of Borgia 
history is afforded in connection with this Sebastiano 
Pinzone by Dr. Jacob Burckhardt (in Der Cultur der 
Renaissance in Italien) who, in the course of the usual 
sweeping diatribe against Cesare, mentions " Michele 
da Corella, his strangler, and Sebastiano Pinzone, 
his poisoner." It is an amazing statement ; for, whilst 
obviously leaning upon Giustiniani's dispatch for the 
presumption that Pinzone was a poisoner at all, he 
ignores the statement contained in it that Pinzone 
was the secretary and favourite of Cardinal Ferrari, 
nor troubles to ascertain that the man was never 
in Cesare Borgia's service at all, nor is ever once 
mentioned anywhere as connected in any capacity 
whatever with the duke. Dr. Burckhardt felt, no 


doubt, the necessity of linking Pinzone to the 
Borgias, that the alleged guilt of the former may 
recoil upon the latter, and so he accomplished it 
in this facile and irresponsible manner. 

Now, notwithstanding the full and circumstantial 
evidence afforded by Burchard's Diarium of the 
Cardinal of Modena's death of a tertian fever, the 
German scholar Gregorovius does not hesitate to write 
of this cardinal's death : " It is certain that it was due 
to their [the Borgias'] infallible white powders." 

Oh the art of writing history in sweeping statements 
to support a preconceived point of view ! Oh that 
white powder of the Borgias ! 

Giovio tells us all about it. Cantarella^ he calls it 
— Cantharides. Why Cantarella ? Possibly because 
it is a pleasing, mellifluous word that will help a 
sentence hang together smoothly ; possibly because 
the notorious aphrodisiac properties of that drug 
suggested it to Giovio as just the poison to be kept 
handy by folk addicted to the pursuits which he and 
others attribute to the Borgias. Can you surmise 
any better reason ? For observe that Giovio describes 
the Cantarella for you — a blunder of his which gives 
the lie to his statement. " A white powder of a faint 
and not unpleasing savour," says he ; and that, as 
you know, is nothing like cantharides, which is green, 
intensely acrid, and burning. Yet who cares for such 
discrepancies ? Who will ever question anything that 
is uttered against a Borgia ? " Cantarella — a white 
powder of a faint and not unpleasing savour," answers 
excellently the steady purpose of supporting a defama- 
tion and pandering to the tastes of those who like sen- 
sations in their reading — and so, from pen to pen, from 
book to book it leaps, as unchallenged as it is impossible. 

Whilst Cesare's troops were engaged in laying 
siege to Ceri, and, by engines contrived by Leonardo 
da Vinci, pressing the defenders so sorely that at 




the end of a month's resistance they surrendered with 
safe-conduct, the inimical and ever -jealous Venetians 
in the north were stirring up what trouble they could. 
Chafing under the restraint of France, they but sought 
a pretext that should justify them in the eyes of Louis 
for making war upon Cesare, and when presently 
envoys came to lay before the Pope the grievance of 
the Republic at the pillage by Borgian soldiery of the 
Venetian traders in Sinigaglia, Cesare had no delusions 
concerning their disposition towards himself. 

Growing uneasy lest they should make this a reason 
for assailing his frontiers, he sent orders north re- 
commending vigilance and instructing his officers to 
deal severely with all enemies of his State, whilst he 
proceeded to complete the provisions for the govern- 
ment of the Romagna. To replace the Governor- 
General he appointed four seneschals : Cristoforo 
della Torre for Forli, Faenza and Imola ; Hieronimo 
Bonadies for Cesena, Rimini, and Pesaro ; Andrea 
Cossa for Fano, Sinigaglia, Fossombrone, and 
Pergola ; and Pedro Ramires for the duchy of Urbino. 
This last was to find a deal of work for his hands ; 
for Urbino was not yet submissive, Majolo and S. 
Leo still holding for Guidobaldo. 

Ramires began by reducing Majolo, and then pro- 
ceeded to lay siege to S. Leo. But the Castellan — 
one Lattanzio — encouraged by the assurances given 
him that the Venetians would render Guidobaldo 
assistance to reconquer his dominions, resisted stub- 
bornly, and was not brought to surrender until the end 
of June, after having held the castle for six months. 

If Venice was jealous and hostile in the north, 
Florence was scarcely less so in mid-Italy — though 
perhaps with rather more justification, for Cesare's 
growing power and boundless ambition kept the 
latter Republic in perpetual fear of being absorbed 
into his dominions — into that kingdom which it was 
his ultimate aim to found. There can be little doubt 


that Francesco da Narni, who appeared in Tuscany 
early in the March of that year, coming from the 
French Court for the purpose of arranging a league 
of Florence, Bologna, Siena, and Lucca — the four 
States more or less under French protection — had 
been besought by Florence, to the obvious end that 
these four States, united, might inter-defend them- • 
selves against Valentinois. And Florence even went 
so far as to avail herself of this to the extent of re- 
storing Pandolfo Petrucci to the lordship of Siena 
— preferring even this avowed enemy to the fearful 
Valentinois. Thus came about Petrucci's restoration 
towards the end of March, despite the fact that the 
Siennese were divided on the subject of his return. 

With the single exception of Camerino, where 
disturbances still continued, all was quiet in the 
States of the Church by that summer of 1503. ; ---^ 

This desirable state of things had been achieved 
by Cesar e's wise and liberal government, which also 
sufficed to ensure its continuance. 

He had successfully combated the threatened famine 
by importing grain from Sicily. To Sinigaglia — his 
latest conquest — he had accorded, as to the other 
subjected States, the privilege of appointing her own 
native officials, with, of course, the exception of the 
Podest^ (who never could be a native of any place where 
he dispensed justice) and the Castellan. In Cesena a 
liberal justice was measured out by the Tribunal of the 
Ruota, which Cesare had instituted there, equipping 
it with the best jurisconsults of the Romagna. 

In Rome he proceeded to a military organization 
on a new basis, and with a thoroughness never before 
seen in Italy — or elsewhere, for that matter — but 
which was thereafter the example all sought to copy. 
We have seen him issuing an edict that every house in 
the Romagna should furnish him one man-at-arms 
to serve him when necessary. The men so levied 
were under obligation to repair to the market-place 



of their native town when summoned thither by 
the ringing of the bells, and it was estimated that this 
method of conscription would yield him six or seven 
thousand men, who could be mobilized in a couple of 
days. He increased the number of arquebusiers, 
appreciating the power and value of a weapon which 
— although invented nearly a century earlier — was still 
regarded with suspicion. He was also the inventor 
of the military uniform, putting his soldiers into a 
livery of his own, and causing his men-at-arms to wear 
over their armour a smock, quartered red and yellow 
with the name Cesare lettered on the breast and back, 
whilst the gentlemen of his guard wore surcoats of his 
colours in gold brocade and crimson velvet. 
// He continued to levy troops and to arm them, and 
it is scarcely over-stating the case to say that hardly 
a tyrant of the Romagna would have dared to do so 
much for fear of the weapons being turned against 
himself. Cesare knew no such fear. He enjoyed a 
loyalty from the people he had subjected which was 
almost unprecedented in Italy. The very officers he 
placed in command of the troops of his levying were, 
for the most part, natives of the Romagna. Is there 
no inference concerning him to be draw^n from that ? 
For every man in his service Cesare ordered a 
back-and-breast and headpiece of steel, and the ar- 
mourers' shops of Brescia rang busily that summer 
with the clang of metal upon metal, as that defensive 
armour for Cesare's troops was being forged. At 
the same time the foundries were turning out 
fresh cannon in that season which saw Cesare at the 
very height and zenith of his power, although he 
himself may not have accounted that, as yet, he was 
further than at the beginning. 
f But the catastrophe that was to hurl him irre- 
{ trievably from the eminence to which in three short 
\ years he had climbed was approaching with stealthy, 
■relentless foot, and was even now upon him. 


** Cesar Borgia che era della gente 
Per armi e per virtu tenuto un sole, 
Mancar dovendo ando dove andar sole 
Phebo, verso la sera, al Occidente. 

GiROLAMo Casio — Epitaffi. 




Unfortunate Naples was a battle-field once more. 
France and Spain were engaged there in a war whose 
details belong elsewhere. 

To the aid of France, which was hard beset and with 
whose arms things were going none too well, Cesare 
was summoned to fulfil the obligations under which 
he was placed by virtue of his treaty with King Louis. 

Rumours were rife that he was negotiating secretly 
with Gonzalo de Cordoba, the Great Captain, and 
the truth of whether or not he was guilty of so base 
a treachery has never been discovered. These rumours 
had been abroad since May, and, if not arising out of, 
they were certainly stimulated by, an edict published 
by Valentinois concerning the papal chamberlain, 
Francesco Troche. In this edict Cesare enjoined 
all subjects of the Holy See to arrest, wherever found, 
this man who had fled from Rome, and whose flight 
" was concerned with something against the honour 
of the King of France. " 

Francesco Troche had been Alexander's confidential 
chamberlain and secretary ; he had been a diligent 
servant of the House of Borgia, and when in France 
had acted as a spy for Valentinois, keeping the duke 
supplied with valuable information at a critical time, 
as we have seen. 

Villari says of him that he was " one of the Borgias' 
most trusted assassins." That he has never been so 
much as alleged to have murdered anyone does not 



signify. He was a servant — a trusted servant — of the 
Borgias ; therefore the title of " assassin " is, if so 
factOy to be bestowed upon him. 

The flight of a man holding such an intimate 
position as Troche's was naturally a subject of much 
speculation and gossip, but a matter upon which 
there was no knowledge. Valentinois was ever secret. 
In common with his father — though hardly in so 
marked a degree, and if we except the case of the 
scurrilous Letter to Silvio Savelli — he showed a 
contemptuous indifference to public opinion on the 
whole which is invested almost with a certain great- 
ness. At least it is rarely other than with greatness 
that we find such an indifference associated. It was 
not for him to take the world into his confidence in 
matters with which the world was not concerned. 
Let the scandalmongers draw what inferences they 
pleased. It was a lofty and dignified procedure, 
but one that was fraught with peril ; and the Borgias 
have never ceased to pay the price of that excessive 
dignity of reserve. For tongues must be wagging, 
and, where knowledge is lacking, speculation will 
soon usurp its place, and presently be invested with 
all the authority of '* fact." 

Out of surmises touching that matter " which 
concerned the honour of the King of France" grew 
presently — and contradictorily — the rumour that 
Troche was gone to betray to France Valentinois's 
intention of going over to the Spanish side. A motive 
was certainly required to account for Troche's action ; 
but the invention of motives does not appear ever to 
have troubled the Cinquecentist. 

It was now said that Troche was enraged at having 
been omitted from the list of cardinals to be created 
at the forthcoming Consistory. It is all mystery, even 
to the end he made ; for, whereas some said that, after 
being seized on board a ship that was bound for 
Corsica, Troche in his despair threw himself over- 


board and was drowned, others reported that he was 
brought back to Rome and strangled in a prison in 

The following questions crave answer : 

If it was Troche's design to betray such a treachery 
of the Borgias against France, what was he doing on 
board a vessel bound for Corsica a fortnight after 
his flight from Rome ? Would not his proper goal 
have been the French camp in Naples, which he 
could have reached in a quarter of that time, and 
where not only could he have vented his desire for 
vengeance by betraying Alexander and Valentinois, 
but he could further have found complete protec- 
tion from pursuit ? 

It is idle and unprofitable to dwell further upon 
the end of Francesco Troche. The matter is a 
complete mystery, and whilst theory is very well as 
theory, it is dangerous to cause it to fill the place 
of fact. 

Troche was drowned or was strangled as a conse- 
quence of his having fled out of motives that were 
'' against the honour of the King of France." And 
straightway the rumour spread of Valentinois's in- 
tended treachery, and the rumour was kept alive and 
swelled by Venice and Florence in pursuit of their 
never-ceasing policy of discrediting Cesare with King 
Louis, to the end that they might encompass his 
expedient ruin. 

The lie was given to them to no small extent by 
the Pope, when, in the Consistory of July 28, he an- 
nounced Cesare's departure to join the French army 
in Naples with five hundred horse and two thousand 
foot assembled for the purpose. 

For this Cesare made now his preparations, and 
on the eve of departure he went with his father — 
on the evening of August 5 — to sup at the villa of 
Cardinal Adriano Corneto, outside Rome. 

Once before we have seen him supping at a villa 


of the Suburra on the eve of setting out for Naples, 
and we know the tragedy that followed — a tragedy 
which he has been accused of having brought about. 
Here again, in a villa of the Suburra, at a supper on 
the eve of setting out for Naples, Death was the 
unseen guest. 

They stayed late at the vineyard of Cardinal Cor- 
neto, enjoying the treacherous cool of the evening, 
breathing the death that was omnipresent in Rome 
that summer, the pestilential fever which had smitten 
Cardinal Giovanni Borgia (Seniore) on the ist of that 
month, and of which men were dying every day in 
the most alarming numbers. 

On the morning of Saturday 12, Burchard tells us, 
the Pope felt ill, and that evening he was taken with 
fever. On the 15th Burchard records that he was 
bled, thirteen ounces of blood being taken from him. 
It relieved him somewhat, and, seeking distraction, 
he bade some of the cardinals to come and sit by his 
bed and play at cards. 

Meanwhile, Cesare was also stricken, and in him 
the fever raged so fierce and violently that he had 
himself immersed to the neck in a huge jar of ice- 
cold water — a drastic treatment in consequence of 
which he came to shed all the skin from his body. 

On the 17th the Pope was much worse, and on the 
1 8th, the end being at hand, he was confessed by the 
Bishop of Culm, who administered Extreme Unction, 
and that evening he died. 

That, beyond all manner of question, is the true 
story of the passing of Alexander VI, as revealed by 
the Diarium of Burchard, by the testimony of the 
physician who attended him, and by the dispatches 
of the Venetian, Ferrarese, and Florentine ambassa- 
dors. At this time of day it is accepted by all 
serious historians, compelled to it by the burden 
of evidence. 


The ambassador of Ferrara had written to Duke 
Ercole, on August 14, that it was no wonder the Pope 
and the duke were ill, as nearly everybody in Rome 
was ill as a consequence of the bad air (" Per la mala 
condictione de aere"). 

Cardinal Soderini was also stricken with the fever, 
whilst Corneto was taken ill on the day after that 
supper-party, and, like Cesare, is said to have shed all 
the skin of his body before he recovered. 

Even Villari and Gregorovius, so unrestrained 
when writing of the Borgias, discard the extraordinary 
and utterly unwarranted stories of Guicciardini, 
Giovio, and Bembo, which will presently be con- 
sidered. Gregorovius does this with a reluctance that 
is almost amusing, and with many a fond, regretful, 
backward glance — so very apparent in his manner — 
at the tale of villainy as told by Guicciardini and the 
others, which the German scholar would have adopted 
but that he dared not for his credit's sake. This is 
not stated on mere assumption. It is obvious to 
any one who reads Gregorovius's histories. 

Burchard tells us — as certainly matter for com- 
ment — that, during his last illness, Alexander never 
once asked for Cesare nor ever once mentioned the 
name of Lucrezia. So far as Cesare is concerned, the 
Pope knew, no doubt, that he was ill and bedridden, 
for all that the gravity of the duke's condition would, 
probably, have been concealed from him. That he 
should not have mentioned Lucrezia — nor, we sup- 
pose, Giuffredo — is remarkable. Did he, with the 
hand of Death already upon him, reproach himself 
with this paternity which, however usual and common- 
place in priests of all degrees, was none the less a 
scandal, and the more scandalous in a measure as 
the rank of the offender was higher ? It may well 
be that in those last days that sinful, worldly old man 
bethought him of the true scope and meaning of 
Christ's Vicarship, which he had so wantonly abused 


and dishonoured, and considered that to that Judge 
before whom he was summoned to appear the sins 
of his predecessors would be no justification or miti- 
gation of his own. It may well be that, grown in- 
trospective upon his bed of death, he tardily sought 
to thrust from his mind the worldly things that had 
so absorbed it until the spiritual were forgotten, and 
had given rise to all the scandal concerning him that 
was spread through Christendom, to the shame and 
dishonour of the Church whose champion he should 
have been. 

Thus may it have come to pass that he summoned 
none of his children in his last hours, nor suffered 
their names to cross his lips. 

When the news of his father's death was brought 
to Cesar e, the duke, all fever-racked as he was, more 
dead than living, considered his position and issued 
his orders to Michele da Corella, that most faithful 
of all his captains, who so richly shared with Cesare 
the execration of the latter's enemies. 

Of tears for his father there is no record, just as 
at no time are we allowed to see that stern spirit 
giving way to any emotion, conceiving any affection, 
or working ever for the good of any but himself. 
Besides, in such an hour as this, the consciousness 
of the danger in which he stood by virtue of the 
Pope's death and his own most inopportune sick- 
ness, which disabled him from taking action to make 
his future secure, must have concerned him to the 
exclusion of all else. 

Meanwhile, however, Rome was quiet, held so in 
the iron grip of Michele da Corella and the ducal 
troops. The Pope's death was being kept secret 
for the moment, and was not announced to the people 
until nightfall, by when Corella had carried out his 
master's orders, including the seizure of the Pope's 
treasure. And Burchard tells us how some of Valen- 
tinois's men entered the Vatican — all the gates 


of which were held by the ducal troops — and, 
seizing Cardinal Casanova, they demanded, with a 
dagger at his throat and a threat to fling his corpse 
from the windows if he refused them, the Pope's 
keys. These the cardinal surrendered, and Corella 
possessed himself of plate and jewels to the value of 
some 200,000 ducats, besides two caskets containing 
about 100,000 ducats in gold. Thereafter the ser- 
vants of the palace completed the pillage by ran- 
sacking the wardrobes and taking all they could find, 
so that nothing was left in the papal apartments 
but the chairs, a few cushions, and the tapestries of 
the walls. 

All his life Alexander had been the victim of the 
most ribald calumnies. Stories had ever sprung up 
and thriven, like ill weeds, about his name and repu- 
tation. His sins, great and scandalous in themselves, 
were swelled by popular rumour, under the spur of 
malice, to monstrous and incredible proportions. 
As they had exaggerated and lied about the manner 
of his life, so — with a consistency worthy of better 
scope — they exaggerated and lied about the manner 
of his death, and, the age being a credulous one, the 
stories were such that writers of more modern and 
less credulous times dare not insist upon them, 
lest they should discredit — as they do — what else 
has been alleged against him. 

Thus when, in his last delirium, the Pope uttered 
some such words as : "I am coming ; I am coming. 
It is just. But wait a little," and when those words 
were repeated, it was straightway asserted that the 
Devil was the being he thus addressed in that supreme 
hour. The story grew in detail ; that is inevitable with 
such matter. He had bargained with the devil, it was 
said, for a pontificate of twelve years, and, the time 
being completed, the devil was come for him. And 
presently, we even have a description of Messer the 
Devil as he appeared on that occasion — in the shape 


of a baboon. The Marquis Gonzaga of Mantua, in 
all seriousness, writes to relate this. The chronicler 
Sanuto, receiving the now popularly current story 
from another source, in all seriousness gives it place 
in his Diarii, thus : 

" The devil was seen to leap out of the room in 
the shape of a baboon. And a cardinal ran to seize 
him, and, having caught him, would have presented 
him to the Pope ; but the Pope said, ' Let him go, 
let him go. It is the devil,' and that night he fell 
ill and died." ' 

That story, transcending the things which this 
more practical age considers possible, is universally 
rejected ; but it is of vast importance to the historical 
student ; for it is to be borne in mind that it finds 
a place in the pages of those same Diarii upon the 
authority of which are accepted many defamatory 
stories without regard to their extreme improbability 
so long as they are within the bounds of bare possi- 

After Alexander was dead it was said that water 
boiled in his mouth, and that steam issued from it 
as he lay in St. Peter's, and much else of the same 
sort, which the known laws of physiology compel so 
many of us very reluctantly to account exaggerations. 
But, again, remember that the source of these stories 
w^as the same as the source of many other exaggerations 
not at issue with physiological laws. 

The circumstances of Alexander's funeral are in 
the highest degree scandalous, and reflect the greatest 
discredit upon his age. 

On the morrow, as the clergy were chanting the 
Libera me^ Domine in St. Peter's, where the body 

* " II diavolo sarebbe saltato fuori della camera in forma di babuino, 
et un cardinale corso per piarlo, e preso volendolo presentar al papa, 
il papa disse lasolo, lasolo che il diavolo. E poi la notte si amalo e 
morite." — Marino Sanuto, Diarii. 


was exposed on a catafalque in full pontificals, a riot 
occurred, set on foot by the soldiers present for reasons 
which Burchard — who records the event — does not 
make clear. 

The clerics fled for shelter to the sacristy, the chants 
were cut short, and the Pope's body almost entirely 

But the most scandalous happening occurred twenty- 
four hours later. The Pope's remains were removed 
to the Chapel of Santa Maria delle Febbre by six 
bearers who laughed and jested at the expense of the 
poor corpse, which was in case to provoke the coarse 
mirth of the lower classes of an age which, setting 
no value upon human life, knew no respect for death. 
By virtue of the malady that had killed him, of his 
plethoric habit of body, and of the sweltering August 
heat, the corpse was decomposing rapidly, so that the 
face had become almost black and assumed an aspect 
grotesquely horrible, fully described by Burchard : 

'' Factus est sicut pannus vel morus nigerrimus, 
livoris totus plenus, nasus plenus, os amplissimum, 
lingua duplex in ore, que labia tota implebat, os 
apertum et adeo horribile quod nemo viderit unquam 
vel esse tale dixerit." 

Two carpenters waited in the chapel with the coffin 
which they had brought ; but, either through care- 
lessness it had been made too narrow and too short, 
or else the body, owing to its swollen condition, did 
not readily fit into this receptable ; whereupon, 
removing the mitre, for which there was no room, 
they replaced it by a piece of old carpet, and set 
themselves to force and pound the corpse into the 
coffin. And this was done " without candle or any 
light being burned in honour of the dead, and with- 
out the presence of any priest or other person to care 
for the Pope's remains." No explanation of this is 
forthcoming ; it was probably due to the panic earlier 
occasioned the clergy by the ducal men-at-arms. 


The story that he had been poisoned was already 
spreading like a conflagration through Rome, arising 
out of the appearance of the body, which was such 
as was popularly associated with venenation. 

But a Borgia in the role of a victim was altogether 
too unusual to be acceptable, and too much opposed 
to the taste to which the public had been educated ; 
so the story must be edited and modified until suit- 
able for popular consumption. The supper-party 
at Cardinal Corneto's villa was remembered, and 
upon that a tale was founded, and trimmed by degrees 
into plausible shape. 

Alexander had intended to poison Corneto — so 
ran this tale — that he might possess himself of the 
cardinal's vast riches ; in the main a well-worn story 
by now. To this end Cesare had bribed a butler 
to pour wine for the cardinal from a flask which he 
entrusted to him. Exit Cesare. Exit presently the 
butler, carelessly leaving the poisoned wine upon a 
buffet. (The drama, you will observe, is perfectly 
mechanical, full of author's interventions, and ele- 
mentary in its " preparations "). Enter the Pope. 
He thirsts, and calls for wine. A servant hastens ; 
takes up, of course, the poisoned flask in ignorance 
of its true quality, and pours for his Beatitude. 
Whilst the Pope drinks re-enters Cesare, also athirst, 
and, seating himself, he joins the Pope in the poisoned 
wine, all unsuspicious and having taken no precau- 
tions to mark the flask. Poetic justice is done, and 
down comes the curtain upon that preposterous 

Such is the story which Guicciardini and Giovio 
and a host of other more or less eminent historians 
have had the audacity to lay before their readers 
as being the true circumstances of the death of 
Alexander VI. 

It is a noteworthy matter that in all that concerns 
the history of the House of Borgia, and more parti- 


cularly those incidents in it that are wrapped in 
mystery, circumstantial elucidation has a habit of 
proceeding from the same quarters. 

You will remember, for instance, that the Venetian 
Paolo Capello (though not in Rome at the time) 
was one of those who was best informed in the matter 
of the murder of the Duke of Gandia. And it was 
Capello again who was possessed of the complete 
details of the scarcely less mysterious business of 
Alfonso of Aragon. Another who on the subject 
of the murder of Gandia " had no doubts " — as he 
himself expressed it — was Pietro Martire d'Anghiera, 
in Spain at ihe time, whence he wrote to inform 
Italy of the true circumstances of a case that had 
happened in Italy. 

It is again Pietro Martire d'Anghiera who, on 
November 10, 1503, writes from Burgos in Spain 
to inform Rome of the true facts of Alexander's 
death — for it is in that letter of his that the tale of 
the flask of wine, as here set down, finds place for the 
first time. 

It is unprofitable to pursue the matter further, 
since at this time of day even the most reluctant to 
reject anything that tells against a Borgia have been 
compelled to admit that the burden of evidence 
is altogether too overwhelming in this instance, and 
that it is proved to the hilt that Alexander died of 
the tertian fever then ravaging Rome. 

And just as the Pope's death was the subject of 
the wildest fictions which have survived until very 
recent days, so too, was Cesare's recovery. 

Again, it was the same Pietro Martire d'Anghiera 
who from Burgos wrote to inform Rome of what was 
taking place in the privacy of the Duke of Valentinois's 
apartments in the Vatican. Under his facile and 
magic pen, the jar of ice-cold water into which Cesare 
was believed to have been plunged was transmuted 
into a mule which was ripped open that the fever- 


stricken Cesare might be packed into the pulsating 
entrails, there to sweat the fever out of him. 

But so poor and sexless a beast as this seeming in 
the popular mind inadequate to a man of Cesare's 
mettle, it presently improved upon and converted it 
into a bull — so much more appropriate, too, as being 
the emblem of his house. 

Nor does it seem that even then the story has gone 
far enough. Facilis inventis addere. There comes a 
French writer with an essay on the Borgias, than which 
— submitted as sober fact — nothing more amazingly 
lurid has been written. In this, with a suggestive 
cleverness entirely Gallic, he causes us to gather 
an impression of Cesare in the intestinal suda- 
torium of that eventrated bull, as of one who is at 
once the hierophant and devotee of a monstrous, 
foul, and unclean rite of some unspeakable religion 
— a rite by comparison with which the Black Mass of 
the Abbe Gribourg becomes a sweet and wholesome 

But hear the man himself : 

" Get homme de meurtres et d'inceste, incarne dans 
I'animal des hecatombes et des bestialites antiques en 
evoque les monstrueuses images. Je crois entendre 
le taureau de Phalaris et le taureau de Pasiphae 
repondre, de loin, par d'effrayants mugissements, 
aux cris humains de ce bucentaure." 

That is the top note on this subject. Hereafter 
all must pale to anti-climax. 

(From the portrait by Raffaele Sanzio.) 

Morelli photo. 




The fever that racked Cesare Borgia's body in those 
days can have been as nothing to the fever that racked 
his mind, the despairing rage that must have whelmed 
his soul to see the unexpected — the one contingency 
against which he had not provided — cutting the very 
ground from underneath his feet. 

As he afterwards expressed himself to Macchiavelli, 
and as Macchiavelli has left on record, Cesare had 
thought of everything, had provided for everything 
that might happen on his father's death, save that in 
such a season — when more than ever he should have 
need for all his strength of body and of mind — he 
should, himself, be lying at the point of death. 

Scarce was Alexander's body cold than the duke's 
enemies began to lift their heads. Already by the 
20th of that month — two days after the Pope had 
breathed his last — the Orsini were in arms and had 
led a jrising, in retort to which Michele da Corella 
fired their palace on Montegiordano. 

Venice and Florence bethought them that the pro- 
tection of France had been expressly for the Church 
and not for Cesare personally. So the Venetians at 
once supplied Guidobaldo da Montefeltre with troops 
wherewith to reconquer his dominions, and by the 
24th he was master of S. Leo. In the city of Urbino 
itself Ramires, the governor, held out as long as possible, 
then beat a retreat to Cesena, whilst Valentinois's 
partisans in Urbino were mercilessly slaughtered 
and their houses pillaged. 

25 417 


Florence supported the Baglioni in the conquest 
of Magione from the Borgias, and they aided Giacopo 
d'Appiano to repossess himself of Piombino, which 
had so gladly seen him depart out of it eighteen 
months ago. 

From Magione, Gianpaolo Baglioni marches his 
Florentine troops to Camerino to aid the only re- 
maining Varano to regain the tyranny of his fathers. 
The Vitelli are back in Citta di Castello, carrying a 
golden calf in triumph through the streets ; and so 
by the end of August, within less than a fortnight, 
all the appendages of the Romagna are lost to Cesare, 
whilst at Cesare's very gates the Orsini men-at-arms 
are clamouring with insistent menace. 

The Duke's best friend, in that crisis, was his secre- 
tary Agabito Gherardi. For it is eminently probable 
— as Alvisi opines — that it was Gherardi who urged 
his master to make an alliance with the Colonna, 
Gherardi himself being related to that powerful 
family. The alliance of these old enemies — Colonna 
and Borgia — was in their common interests, that they 
might stand against their common enemy, Orsini — 
the old friends of the Borgias. 

On August 22 Prospero Colonna came to Rome, 
and terms were made and cemented, in the usual 
manner, by a betrothal — that of the little Rodrigo — 
(Lucrezia's child) — to a daughter of the House of 
Colonna. On the same day the Sacred College con- 
firmed Cesare in his office of Captain-General and 
Gonfalonier of the Church, pending the election of a 
new Pope. 

Meanwhile, sick almost to the point of death, and 
scarce able to stir hand or foot, so weak in body had 
he been left by the heroic treatment to which he 
had submitted, Cesare continued mentally a miracle 
of energy and self-possession. He issued orders for 
the fortifying of the Vatican, and summoned from 
Romagna 200 horse and 1,000 foot to his aid in Rome, 


bidding Remolino, who brought these troops, to 
quarter himself at Orvieto, and there await his further 

Considering that the Colonna were fighting in 
Naples under the banner of Gonzalo de Cordoba, it 
was naturally enough supposed, from Cesare's alliance 
with the former, that this time he was resolved to go 
over to the side of Spain. Of this, M. de Trans came 
to protest to Valentinois on behalf of Louis XII, to 
be answered by the duke's assurances that the alli- 
ance into which he had entered was strictly confined 
to the Colonna, that it entailed no treaty with Spain ; 
nor had he entered into any ; that his loyalty to the 
King of France continued unimpaired, and that he 
was ready to support King Louis with the entire 
forces he disposed of, whenever his Majesty should 
desire him so to do. In reply, he was assured by 
the French ambassador and Cardinal Sanseverino of 
the continued protection of Louis, and that France 
would aid him to maintain his dominions in Italy 
and reconquer any that might have seceded ; and 
of this declaration copies were sent to Florence, 
Venice, and Bologna on September i, as a warning 
to those Powers not to engage in anything to the hurt 
of Valentinois. 

Thus sped the time of the novendiali — the nine 
days' obsequies of the dead Pope — which were com- 
menced on September 4. 

As during the conclave that was immediately to 
follow it was against the law for armed men to be in 
Rome, Cesare was desired by the Sacred College to 
withdraw his troops. He did so on September 2, 
and himself went with them. 

Cardinal Sanseverino and the French ambassador 
escorted him out of Rome and saw him take the road 
to Nepi — a weak, fever-ravaged, emaciated man, borne 
in a litter by a dozen of his halberdiers, his youth, 
his beauty, his matchless strength of body all sapped 


from him by the insidious disease which had but 
grudgingly spared his very life. 

At Nepi he was awaited by his brother Giuffredo, 
who had preceded him thither from Rome. A 
shadowy personage this Giuffredo, whose unimpor- 
tant personality is tantalizingly elusive in the pages 
where mention is made of him. His incontinent 
wife, Doiia Sancia, had gone to Naples under the 
escort of Prospero Colonna, having left the Castle of 
Sant 'Angelo where for some time she had been 
confined by order of her father-in-law, the Pope, on 
account of the disorders of her frivolous life. 

And now the advices of the fresh treaty between 
Cesare Borgia and the King of France were producing 
their effect upon Venice and Florence, who were 
given additional pause by the fierce jealousy of each 
other, which was second only to their jealousy of 
the duke. 

From Venice — with or without the sanction of 
his Government — Bartolomeo d'Alviano had ridden 
south into the Romagna with his condotta immediately 
upon receiving news of the death of Alexander, and, 
finding Pandolfaccio Malatesta at Ravenna, he pro- 
ceeded to accompany him back to that Rimini which 
the tyrant had sold to Cesare. Rimini, however, 
refused to receive him back, and showed fight to the 
forces under d'Alviano. So that, for the moment, 
nothing was accomplished. Whereupon the Republic, 
which at first had raised a feeble, make-believe protest 
at the action of her condottiero, now deemed it as well 
to find a pretext for supporting him. So Venice 
alleged that a courier of hers had been stripped of 
a letter, and, with such an overwhelming cause as 
that for hostilities, dispatched reinforcements to 
d'Alviano to the end that he might restore Pandol- 
faccio to a dominion in which he was abhorred. 
Further, d'Alviano was thereafter to proceed to do 
the like office for Giovanni Sforza, who already had 


taken ship for Pesaro, and who was restored to his 
lordship on September 3. 

Thence, carrying the war into the Romagna itself, 
d'Alviano marched upon Cesena. But the Romagna 
was staunch and loyal to her duke. The governor 
had shut himself up in Cesena with what troops he 
could muster, including a thousand veterans under 
the valiant Dionigio di Naldo, and there, standing 
firm and resolute, he awaited the onslaught of the 

D'Alviano advanced rapidly and cruelly, a devasta- 
tor laying waste the country in his passage, until to 
check him came suddenly the Borgia troops, which 
had ventured upon a sally. The Venetians were 
routed and put to flight. 

On September 16 the restored tyrants of Rimini, 
Pesaro, Castello, Perugia, Camerino, Urbino, and 
Sinigaglia entered into and signed at Perugia a league, 
whose chiefs were Bartolomeo d'Alviano and Gianpaolo 
Baglioni, for their common protection. 

Florence was invited to join the allies. Intimi- 
dated, however, by France, not only did the Signory 
refuse to be included, but — in her usual manner — 
actually went so far as to advise Cesare Borgia of 
that refusal and to offer him her services and help. 

On the same date the Sacred College assembled 
in Rome, at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, to beseech 
the grace of inspiration in the election of the new 
Pontiff. The part usually played by the divine 
afflatus in these matters was so fully understood and 
appreciated that the Venetian ambassador received 
instructions from the Republic ^ to order the Venetian 
cardinals to vote for Giuliano della Rovere, whilst 
the King of France sent a letter — in his own hand — 
to the Sacred College desiring it to elect his friend 

^ See Sanuto's Diarriu 


the Cardinal d'Amboise, and Spain, at the same time, 
sought to influence the election of Carvajal. 

The chances of the last-named do not appear ever 
to have amounted to very much. The three best 
supported candidates were della Rovere, d'Amboise, 
and Ascanio Sforza — who made his reappearance in 
Rome, released from his French prison at last, in 
time to attend this Conclave. 

None of these three factions was strong enough to 
ensure the election of its own candidate, but any 
two were strong enough to prevent the election of 
the candidate of the third. Wherefore it happened 
that, as a result of so much jealousy and competition, 
recourse was had to temporizing by electing the oldest 
and feeblest cardinal in the College. Thus there 
should presently be another election, and meantime 
the candidates would improve the time by making 
their arrangements and canvassing their supporters 
so as to control the votes of the College at that future 
Conclave. Therefore Francesco Piccolomini, Cardinal 
of Siena (nephew of Pius II), a feeble octogenarian, 
tormented by an ulcer, which, in conjunction with 
an incompetent physician, was to cut his life even 
shorter than they hoped, was placed upon the throne 
of St. Peter, and assumed with the Pontificate the 
name of Pius III. 

The new Pope was entirely favourable to Cesare 
Borgia, and confirmed him in all his offices, signifying 
his displeasure to Venice at her attempt upon the 
Romagna, and issuing briefs to the allied tyrants 
commanding them to desist from their opposition 
to the will of the Holy See. 

Cesare returned to Rome, still weak on his legs and 
ghastly to behold, and on October 6 he received in 
St. Peter's his confirmation as Captain-General and 
Gonfalonier of the Church. 

The Venetians had meanwhile been checked by a 
letter from Louis from lending further assistance to 


the allies. The latter, however, continued their 
hostilities in spite of that. They had captured 
Sinigaglia, and now they made an attempt on Fano and 
Fermo, but were repulsed in both places by Cesare's 
loyal subjects. At the same time the Ordelaffi — who 
in the old days had been deposed from the Tyranny 
of Forli to make room for the Riarii — deemed the 
opportunity a good one to attempt to regain their 
lordship; but their attempt, too, was frustrated. 

Cesare sat impotent in Rome, no doubt vexed by 
his own inaction. He cannot have lacked the will 
to go to the Romagna to support the subjects who 
showed him such loyalty ; but he lacked the means. 
Owing to the French and Spanish dispute in Naples, 
his army had practically melted away. The terms 
of his treaty with Louis compelled him to send the 
bulk of it to the camp at Garigliano to support the 
French, who were in trouble. The force that Re- 
molino had quartered at Orvieto to await the duke's 
orders he had been unable to retain there. Growing 
uneasy at their position, and finding it impossible 
either to advance or to retreat, being threatened on 
the one side by the Baglioni and on the other by the 
Orsini, these troops had steadily deserted ; whilst 
most of Cesare's Spanish captains and their followers 
had gone to the aid of their compatriots under Gon- 
zalo de Cordoba in response to that captain's summons 
of every Spaniard in the peninsula. 

Thus did it come about that Cesare had no force 
to afford his Romagna subjects. His commissioners 
in the north did what was possible to repair the 
damage effected by the allies, and they sent Dionigio 
di Naldo with six hundred of his foot, and, further, a 
condotta of two hundred horse, against Rimini. This 
was captured by them in one day and almost without 
resistance, Pandolfaccio flying for his life to Pesaro. 

Next the allies, by attempting to avenge the rout 
they had suffered at Cesena, afforded the ducal troops 


an opportunity of scoring another victory. They 
prepared a second attack against Cesare's capital, and 
with an army of considerable strength they advanced 
to the very walls of the stronghold, laying the aque- 
duct in ruins and dismantling what other buildings 
they found in their way. But in Cesena the gallant 
Pedro Ramires lay in wait for them. Issuing to 
meet them, he not only put them to flight and drove 
them for shelter into the fortress of Montebello, 
but laid siege to them there and broke them utterly, 
with a loss, as was reputed, of some three hundred 
men in slain alone. 

The news of this came to cheer Valentinois, who, 
moreover, had now the Pope and France to depend 
upon. Further, and in view of that same protection, 
the Orsini were already treating with him for a re- 
conciliation, despite the fact that the Orsini blood 
was scarce dry upon his hands. But he had a resolute, 
sly, and desperate enemy in Venice, and on October lo 
there arrived in Rome Bartolomeo d'Alviano and Gian- 
paolo Baglioni, who repaired to the Venetian ambas- 
sador and informed him that they were come in quest 
of the person of Valentinois, intending his death. 

To achieve their ends they united themselves to 
the Orsini, who were now in arms in Rome, their 
attempted reconciliation with Cesare having aborted. 
Valentinois's peril became imminent, and from the 
Vatican he withdrew for shelter to the Castle of 
Sant'Angelo, going by way of the underground 
passage built by his father. 

Thence he summoned Michele da Corella, who was 
at Rocca Soriana with his foot, and Taddeo della 
Volpe (a valiant captain and a great fighter, who had 
already lost an eye in Cesare's service) and Baldassare 
Scipione, who were in the Neapolitan territory with 
their men-at-arms. He was gathering his sinews for 
a spring, when suddenly the entire face of affairs was 
altered and all plans were checked by the death of 


Pius III on October 18, after a reign of twenty-six 

Once more there was an end to Cesare's credit. No 
man might say what the future held in store. Gius- 
tiniani, indeed, wrote to his Government that Cesare 
was about to withdraw to France, and that he had 
besought a safe-conduct of the Orsini — which report 
is as true as many another communication from the 
same Venetian pen, ever ready to write what it hoped 
might be true ; and it is flatly contradicted by the 
better-informed Macchiavelli, who was writing at the 
same time : 

*' The duke is in Sant 'Angelo, and is more hopeful 
than ever of accomplishing great things, presupposing 
a Pope according to the wishes of his friends." 

But the Romagna was stirred once more to the 
turbulence from which it had scarcely settled. Forli 
and Rimini were lost almost at once, the Ordelaffi 
succeeding in capturing the former in this their 
second attempt, whilst Pandolfaccio once more sat in 
his palace at Rimini, having cut his way to it through 
a sturdy resistance. Against Imola Bentivogli dis- 
patched a force of two thousand foot ; but this was 
beaten off. 

The authority of France appeared to have lost its 
weight, and in vain did Cardinal d'Amboise thunder 
threats in the name of his friend King Louis, and send 
envoys to Florence, Venice, Bologna, and Urbino, 
to complain of the injuries that were being done to 
the Duke of Valentinois. 



GiuLiANO DELLA RovERE, Cardinal of S. Pietro in 
Vincoli, had much in his character that was reminiscent 
of his terrible uncle, Sixtus IV. Like that uncle of 
his, he had many failings highly unbecoming any Chris- 
tian — laic or ecclesiastic — which no one has attempted 
to screen ; and, incidentally, he cultivated morality 
in his private life and observed his priestly vows of 
chastity as little as did any other churchman of his 
day. For you may see him, through the eyes of 
Paride de Grassi,^ unable one Good Friday to remove 
his shoes for the adoration of the cross in consequence 
of his foot's affliction — ex morho gallico. But with 
one great and splendid virtue was he endowed in 
the eyes of the enemies of the House of Borgia — 
contemporary, and subsequent down to our times — 
a most profound, unchristian, and mordacious hatred 
of all Borgias. 

Roderigo Borgia had defeated him in the Conclave 
of 1492, and for twelve years had kept him out of 
the coveted pontificate. You have seen how he found 
expression for his furious jealousy at his rival's success. 
You have seen him endeavouring to his utmost to 
accomplish the deposition of the Borgia Pope, wielding 
to that end the lever of simony and seeking a fulcrum 
for it, first in the King of France and later in Ferdin- 
and and Isabella ; but failing hopelessly in both 
instances. You have seen him, when he realized the 

^ Burchard*8 successor in the office of Master of Ceremonies. 



failure of an attempt which had made Rome too 
dangerous for him and compelled him to remain in 
exile, suddenly veering round to fawn and flatter 
and win the friendship of one whom his enmity could 
not touch. 

This man who, as Julius II, was presently to succeed 
Pius III, has been accounted a shining light of virtue 
amid the dark turpitude of the Church in the Renais- 
sance. An ignis fatuus, perhaps ; a Jack-o'-lanthorn 
begotten of putrescence. Surely no more than that. 

Dr. Jacob Burckhardt, in that able work of his to 
which reference already has been made, follows the 
well-worn path of unrestrained invective against the 
Borgias, giving to the usual empty assertions the place 
which should be assigned to evidence and argument. 
Like his predecessors along that path, he causes Giu- 
liano della Rovere to shine heroically by contrast 
— a foil to throw into greater relief the blackness of 
Alexander. But he carries assertion rather further 
than do others when he says of Cardinal della Rovere 
that " He ascended the steps of St. Peter's Chair 
without simony and amid general applause, and with 
him ceased, at all events, the undisguised traffic in 
the highest offices of the Church." 

Other writers in plenty have suggested this, but 
none has quite so plainly and resoundingly thrown 
down the gauntlet, which we will make bold to lift. 

That Dr. Burckhardt wrote in other than good faith 
is not to be imputed. It must therefore follow that 
an entry in the Diarium of the Caerimoniarius under 
date of October 29, 1503, escaped him utterly in 
the course of his researches. For the Diarium informs 
us that on that day, in the Apostolic Palace, Giuliano 
della Rovere, Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincoli, con- 
cluded the terms of an agreement with the Duke 
of Valentinois and the latter's following of Spanish 
cardinals, by which he undertook that, in consideration 
of his receiving the votes of these Spanish cardinals 


and being elected Pope, he would confirm Cesare in 
his office of Gonfalonier and Captain-General, and 
would preserve him in the dominion of the Romagna. 
And, in consideration of that undertaking, the Spanish 
cardinals, on their side, promised to give him their 

Here are the precise words in which Burchard re- 
cords the transaction : 

" Eadem die, 29 Octobris, Rmus. D. S. Petri 
ad Vincula venit in palatio apostolico cum duce 
Valentino et cardinalibus suis Hispanis et concluserunt 
capitula eorum per que, inter alia, cardinalis S. Petri 
ad Vincula, postquam esset papa, crearet confalon- 
ierium Ecclesiae generalem ducem ac ei faveret et 
in statibus suis (relinqueret) et vice versa dux pape ; 
et promiserunt omnes cardinalis Hispani dare votum 
pro Cardinali S. Petri ad Vincula ad papatum." 

If that does not entail simony and sacrilege, then 
such things do not exist at all. More, you shall hunt 
in vain for any accusation so authoritative, formal 
and complete, regarding the simony practised by 
Alexander VI on his election. And this same Julius, 
moreover, was the Pope who later was to launch his 
famous Bull de Simoniaca Electione, to add another 
stain to the besmirched escutcheon of the Borgia 

His conciliation of Cesare and his obtaining, thus, 
the support of the Spanish cardinals, who, being Alex- 
ander's creatures, were now Cesare's very faithful 
servants, ensured the election of della Rovere ; for, 
whilst those cardinals' votes did not suffice to place 
him in St. Peter's Chair, they would abundantly 
have sufficed to have kept him out of it had Cesare 
so desired them. 

In coming to terms with Cardinal della Rovere, 
Cesare made the first great mistake of his career, 
took the first step towards ruin. He should have 
known better than to have trusted such a man. He 


should have remembered the ancient bitter rancour ; 
should have recognized, in the amity of later times, 
the amity of the self-seeker, and mistrusted it. But 
della Rovere had acquired a reputation for honesty 
and for being a man of his word. How far he deserved 
it you may judge from what is presently to follow. 
He had acquired it, however, and Cesare, to his un- 
doing, attached faith to that reputation. He may, to 
some extent, have counted upon the fact that, of Car- 
dinal della Rovere's bastard children, only a daughter 
— Felice della Rovere — survived. Raffaele, the last 
of his bastard boys, had died a year ago. Thus, Cesare 
may have concluded that the cardinal having no 
sons whose fortunes he must advance, would lack 
temptation to break faith with him. 

From all this it resulted that, at the Conclave of 
November i, Giuliano della Rovere was elected Pope, 
and took the name of Julius H ; whilst Valentinois, 
confident now that his future was assured, left the 
Castle of Sant 'Angelo to take up his residence at 
the Vatican, in the Belvedere, with forty gentlemen 
constituting his suite. 

On November 3 Julius H issued briefs to the Ro- 
magna, ordering obedience to Cesare, with whom 
he was now in daily and friendliest intercourse. 

In the Romagna, meanwhile, the disturbances had 
not only continued, but they had taken a fresh turn. 
Venice, having reseated Malatesta on the throne, 
now vented at last the covetousness she had ever, 
herself, manifested of that dominion, and sent a 
force to drive him out again and conquer Rimini 
for the Republic. 

Florence, in a spasm of jealous anger at this, in- 
quired was the Pope to become the chaplain of Venice, 
and dispatched Macchiavelli to bear the tale of these 
doings to Julius. 

Under so much perpetual strife the strength of 
the Romagna was gradually crumbling, and Cesare, 


angry with Florence for never going beyond lip- 
service, expressed that anger to Macchiavelli, informing 
the ambassador that the Signory could have saved 
the Romagna for him with a hundred men-at-arms. 

The duke sent for Giustiniani, the ambassador 
of Venice, who, however, excused himself and did 
not go. This within a week of the new Pope's elec- 
tion, showing already how men discerned what was 
in store for Valentinois. Giustiniani wrote to his 
Government that he had not gone lest his going should 
give the duke importance in the eyes of others.-^ 
The pettiness and meanness of the man, revealed in 
that dispatch, will enable you to attach to Giustiniani 
the label that belongs to him. 

To cheer Valentinois in those days of depression 
came news that his subjects of Imola had successfully 
resisted an attack on the part of the Venetians. So 
stimulated was he that he prepared at once to go, 
himself, into the Romagna, and obtained from the 
Pope, from d'Amboise, and from Soderini, letters 
to Florence desiring the Signory to afford him safe- 
conduct through Tuscany for himself and his army. 

The Pope expressed himself, in his letter, that he 
would count such safe-conduct as a great favour to 
himself, and urged the granting of it out of his " love 
for Cesare," owing to the latter's " great virtues 
and shining merits." * Yet on the morrow of dis- 
patching that brief, this man, who was accounted 
honest, straightforward, and imbued with a love of 
truth, informed Giustiniani — or else Giustiniani lied 
in his dispatches — that he understood that the Vene- 

* " Per non dar materia ad altri che fazino un po di lui mazor es- 
timazion di quel che fanno quando lo vedessero in parte alcuna 
favorite. " — Giustiniani, Dispatch of November 6, 1503. 

 " In quo nobis rem gratissimam facietis ducis enim ipsum propter 
ejus insignes virtutes et praeclara merita praecipuo affectur et caritate 
praecipua complectimur." — Archivio di Stato, Firenze. (See Alvisi, 
Doct. 96.) 


tians were assailing the Romagna, not out of enmity 
to the Church, but to punish the demerits of Cesare, 
and he made it plain to Giustiniani that, if he com- 
plained of the conduct of the Venetians, it was on 
his own behalf and not on Cesare's, as his aim was to 
preserve the Romagna, not for the duke, but for the 

With the aim we have no quarrel. It was laudable 
enough in a Pontiff. But it foreshadows Cesare's 
ruin, in spite of the love-protesting letter to Florence, 
in spite of the bargain struck by virtue of which 
Julius had obtained the pontificate. Whether the 
Pope went further in his treachery, whether, having 
dispatched that brief to Florence, he sent other com- 
munications to the Signory, is not ascertainable ; 
but the suspicion of some such secret action is inspired 
by what ensued. 

On November 13 Cesare was ready to leave Rome ; 
but no safe-conduct had arrived. Out of all patience 
at this, he begged the Pope that the captain of the 
pontifical navy should prepare him five galleons at 
Ostia, by which he could take his foot to Genoa, 
and thence proceed into Romagna by way of Ferrara. 

Macchiavelli, at the same time, was frenziedly im- 
portuning Florence to grant the duke the desired 
safe-conduct lest in despair Cesare should make a 
treaty with Venice — ** or with the devil " — and should 
go to Pisa, employing all his money, strength, and 
influence to vent his wrath upon the Signory. But 
the Signory knew more, perhaps, than did Macchia- 
velli, for no attention was paid to his urgent advice. 

On the 19th Cesare left Rome to set out for Genoa 
by way of Ostia, and his departure threw Giustiniani 
into alarm — fearing that the duke would now escafe. 

But there was no occasion for his fears. On the 
very day of Cesare's departure Julius sent fresh briefs 
to the Romagna, different indeed from those of 
November 3. In these he now expressed his dis- 


approval of Alexander's having conferred the vicar- 
ship of the Romagna upon Cesare Borgia, and he 
exhorted all to range themselves under the banner of 
the Church, under, whose protection he intended to 
keep them. 

Events followed quickly upon that. Two days 
later news reached the Pope that the Venetians had 
captured Faenza, whereupon he sent a messenger 
after Valentinois to suggest to the latter that he should 
surrender Forli and the other fiefs into pontifical 
hands. With this Cesare refused to comply, and, as a 
result, he was detained by the captain of the navy, in 
obedience to the instructions from Julius. At the same 
time the Pope broke the last link of the treaty with 
Cesare by appointing a new Governor of Romagna 
in the person of Giovanni Sacchi, Bishop of Ragusa. 
He commanded the latter to take possession of the 
Romagna in the name of the Church, and he issued 
another brief — the third within three weeks — de- 
manding the State's obedience to the new governor. 

On November 26, Remolino, who had been at 
Ostia with Cesare, came to Rome, and, throwing him- 
self at the feet of the Pontiff, begged for mercy for his 
lord, whom he now accounted lost. He promised 
Julius that Cesare should give him the countersigns 
of the strongholds, together with security for their 
surrender. This being all that the Pope could desire, 
he issued orders that Cesare be brought back to Rome, 
and in Consistory advised the Sacred College — by 
way, no doubt, of exculpating himself to men who 
knew that he was refusing to pay the price at which 
he had bought the Papacy — that the Venetians in 
the Romagna were not moving against the Church, but 
against Cesare himself — wherefore he had demanded 
of Cesare the surrender of the towns he held, that 
thus there might be an end to the war. 

It was specious — which is the best that can be said 
for it. 


As for putting an end to the war, the papal brief 
was far indeed from achieving any such thing, as 
was instantly plain from the reception it met with 
in the Romagna, which persisted in its loyalty to 
Cesare in despite of the very Pope himself. When that 
brief was read in Cesena a wild tumult ensued, and 
the people ran through the streets clamouring angrily 
for their duke. 

It was very plain what short work would have been 
made of such men as the Ordelaffi and the Malatesta 
had Cesare gone north. But Cesare was fast at the 
Vatican, treated by the Pope with all outward friend- 
liness and consideration, but virtually a prisoner 
none the less. Julius continued to press for the sur- 
render of the Romagna strongholds, which Remolino 
had promised in his master's name ; but Cesare per- 
sisted obstinately to refuse, until the news reached 
him that Michele da Corella and della Volpe, who had 
gone north with seven hundred horse to support his 
Romagnuoli, had been cut to pieces in Tuscany by 
the army of Gianpaolo Baglioni. 

Cesare bore his burning grievance to the Pope. 
The Pope sympathized with him most deeply ; then 
went to write a letter to the Florentines to thank 
them for what had befallen and to beg them to send 
him Michele da Corella under a strong escort — that 
redoubtable captain having been taken prisoner 
together with della Volpe. 

Corella was known to be fully in the duke's con- 
fidence, and there were rumours that he was accused 
of many things perpetrated on the duke's behalf. 
Julius, bent now on Cesare's ruin, desired to possess 
himself of this man in the hope of being able to 
put him upon his trial under charges which should 
reflect discredit upon Cesare. 

At last the duke realized that he was betrayed, 
and that all was lost, and so he submitted to the 
inevitable, and gave the Pope the countersigns he 



craved. With these Julius at once dispatched an 
envoy into the Romagna, and, knowing the temper 
of Cesare's captains, he insisted that this envoy should 
be accompanied by Piero d'Orvieto, as Cesare's own 
commissioner, to demand that surrender. 

But the intrepid Pedro Ramires, who held Cesena, 
knowing the true facts of the case, and conceiving 
how his duke had been constrained, instead of making 
ready to yield, proceeded further to fortify for resist- 
ance. When the commissioners appeared before his 
gates he ordered the admission of Piero d'Orvieto. 
That done, he declared that he desired to see his duke 
at liberty before he would surrender the citadel which 
he held for him, and, taking d'Orvieto, he hanged him 
from the battlements as a traitor and a bad servant 
who did a thing which the duke, had he been at 
liberty, would never have had him do. 

Moncalieri, the papal envoy, returned to Rome with 
the news, and this so inflamed the Pope that the 
Cardinals Lodovico Borgia and Francesco Remolino, 
together with other Borgia partisans, instantly fled 
from Rome, where they no longer accounted themselves 
safe, and sought refuge with Gonzalo de Cordoba 
in the Spanish camp at Naples, imploring his protec- 
tion at the same time for Cesare. 

The Pope's anger first vented itself in the confisca- 
tion of the Duke of Valentinois's property wherever 
possible, to satisfy the claims of the Riarii (the Pope's 
nephews) who demanded an indemnity of 50,000 
ducats, of Guidobaldo, who demanded 200,000 ducats, 
and of the Florentine Republic, which claimed the 
same. The duke's ruin was by now — within six weeks 
of the election of Julius II — an accomplished fact ; and 
many were those who chose to fall with him rather 
than abandon him in his extremity. They afford 
a spectacle of honour and loyalty that was exceedingly 
rare in the Italy of the Renaissance ; clinging to their 
duke, even when the last ray of hope was quenched, 


they lightened for him the tedium of those last days 
at the Vatican during which he was no better than 
a prisoner of state. 

Suddenly came news of Gonzalo de Cordoba's 
splendid victory at Garigliano — a victory which de- 
finitely broke the French and gave the throne of 
Naples to Spain. Naturally this set Spanish influence 
once more, and mightily, in the ascendant, and the 
Spanish cardinals, together with the ambassador of 
Spain, came to exert with the Pope an influence 
suddenly grown weighty. 

As a consequence, Cesare, escorted by Carvajal, 
Cardinal of Santa Croce, was permitted to depart to 
Ostia, whence he was to take ship for France. Least- 
ways, such was the understanding upon which he 
left the Vatican. But the Pope was not minded, 
even now, to part with him so easily, and his instruc- 
tions to Carvajal were that at Ostia he should await 
further orders before sailing. 

But on December 26, news reaching the Spanish 
cardinal that the Romagna fortresses — persuaded 
that Cesare had been liberated — had finally sur- 
rendered, Carvajal took it upon himself to allow Cesare 
to depart, upon receiving from him a written under- 
taking never to bear arms against Pope Julius IL 

So the Duke of Valentinois at last regained his 
freedom. Whether, in repairing straight to Naples, 
as he did, he put a preconceived plan into execution, 
or whether, even now, he mistrusted his enlargement, 
and thought thus to make himself secure, cannot be 
ascertained. But straight to Gonzalo de Cordoba's 
Spanish camp he went, equipped with a safe-conduct 
from the Great Captain, obtained for Cesare by 
Cardinal Remolino. 

There he found a court of friends already awaiting 
him, among whom were his brother Giuffredo and 
the Cardinal Lodovico Borgia, and he received from 
Gonzalo a very cordial welcome. 


Spain was considering the invasion of Tuscany with 
the ultimate object of assailing Milan and driving 
the French out of the peninsula altogether. Piero 
de' Medici — killed at Garigliano — had no doubt been 
serving Spain with some such end in view as the con- 
quest of Florence, and, though Piero was dead, there 
was no reason why the plan should be abandoned ; 
rather, all the more reason to carry it forward, since 
now Spain would more directly profit by it. Bartolo- 
meo d'Alviano was to have commanded the army 
destined for that campaign ; but Cesare, b/ virtue of 
his friends and influence in Pisa, Siena, and Piom- 
bino, was so preferable a captain for such an expedition 
that Gonzalo gave him charge of it within a few days 
of his arrival at the Spanish camp. 

To Cesare this would have been the thin end of a 
mighty edge. Here was a chance to begin all over 
again, and, beginning thus, backed by Spanish arms, 
there was no saying how far he might have gone. 
Meanwhile, what a beginning ! To avenge himself 
thus upon that Florentine Republic which, under 
the protection of France, had dared at every turn to 
flout him and had been the instrument of his ultimate 
ruin ! Sweet to him would have been the poetic 
justice he would have administered — as sweet to him 
as it would have been terrible to Florence, upon which 
he would have descended like another scourge of 

Briskly and with high-running hopes he set about 
his preparations during that spring of 1504 what time 
the Pope's Holiness in Rome was seeking to justify 
his treachery by heaping odium upon the Borgias. 
Thus he thought to show that if he had broken 
faith, he had broken faith with knaves deserving 
none. It was in pursuit of this that Michele da 
Corella was now pressed with questions, which, how- 
ever, yielded nothing, and that Asquino de CoUoredo 
(the sometime servant of Cardinal Michaeli) was 


tortured into confessing that he had poisoned his 
master at the instigation of Alexander and Cesare — 
as has been seen — which confession Pope Julius was 
very quick to publish. 

But in Naples, it may well be that Cesare cared 
nought for these matters, busy and hopeful as he was 
just then. He dispatched Baldassare da Scipione to 
Rome to enlist what lances he could find, and Scipione 
put it about that his lord would soon be returning 
to his own and giving his enemies something to think 

And then, suddenly, out of clearest heavens, fell 
a thunderbolt to shiver this last hope. 

On the night of May 26, as Cesare was leaving 
Gonzalo's quarters, where he had supped, an officer 
stepped forward to demand his sword. He was under 

Julius H had out-manoeuvred him. He had written 
to Spain setting forth what was his agreement with 
Valentinois in the matter of the Romagna — the 
original agreement which was the price of the Ponti- 
ficate, had, of course, been conveniently effaced from 
the pontifical memory. He addressed passionate com- 
plaints to Ferdinand and Isabella that Gonzalo de 
Cordoba and Cardinal Carvajal between them were 
affording Valentinois the means to break that agree- 
ment, and to undertake matters that were hostile 
to the Holy See. And Ferdinand and Isabella had 
put it upon Gonzalo de Cordoba, that most honourable 
and gallant captain, to do this thing in gross violation 
of his safe-conduct and plighted word to Valentinois. 
It was a deed under the shame of which the Great 
Captain confessedly laboured to the end of his days, 
as his memory has laboured under it ever since. 
For great captains are not afforded the immunity 
enjoyed by priests and popes jointly with other 
wearers of the petticoat from the consequences of 
falsehood and violated trust. 


Fierce and bitter were Valentinois's reproaches of the 
Great Captain for this treachery — as fierce and bitter 
as they were unavailing. On August 20, 1504, Cesare 
Borgia took ship for Spain — a prisoner bound for a 
Spanish dungeon. Thus, at the early age of twenty- 
nine, he passed from Italy and the deeds that well 
might have filled a lifetime. 

Conspicuous amid those he left behind him who 
remained loyal to their duke was Baldassare Scipione, 
who published throughout Christendom a cartel, 
wherein he challenged to trial by combat any Spaniard 
who dared deny that the Duke of Valentinois had been 
detained a prisoner in Naples in spite of the safe- 
conduct granted him in the name of Ferdinand and 
Isabella, " with great shame and infamy to their 
crown." ^ 

This challenge was never taken up. 

Amongst other loyal ones was that fine soldier 
of fortune, Taddeo della Volpe, who, in his Florentine 
prison, refused all offers to enter the service of the 
Signory until he had learnt that his lord was gone 
from Italy. 

Fracassa and Mirafuente had held Forli until they 
received guarantees for Cesare's safety (after he had 
left Ostia to repair to the Spanish camp). They 
then rode out, with the honours of war, lance on 
thigh. Dionigio di Naldo, that hardy captain of 
foot, entered the service of Venice ; but to the end 
he wore the device of his dear lord, and imposed the 
same upon all who served under his banner. 

Don Michele da Corella was liberated by Julius II 
after an interrogatory which can have revealed nothing 
defamatory to Cesare or his father ; as it is unthink- 
able that a Pope who did all that man could do to 
ruin the House of Borgia and to befoul its memory, 

^ Quoted by Alvisi, on the authority of a letter of Luigi da Porto, 
March 16, 15 10, in LeiUre Storiche, 


should have preserved silencie touching any such 
revelations as were hoped for when Corella was put to 
torture. That most faithful of all Cesare's officers 
— and sharer of the odium that has been heaped upon 
Cesare's name — entered the service of the Signory 
of Florence. 



Vain were the exertions put forth by the Spanish 
cardinals to obtain Cesare's enlargement, and vainer 
still the efforts of his sister Lucrezia, who wrote letter 
after letter to Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua — now 
Gonfalonier of the Church, and a man of influence 
at the Vatican — imploring him to use his interest 
with the Pope to the same end. 

Julius II remained unmoved, fearing the power of 
Cesare Borgia, and resolved that he should trouble 
Italy no more. On the score of that, no blame at- 
taches to the Pope. The States which Borgia had 
conquered in the name of the Church should remain 
adherent to the Church. Upon that Julius was re- 
solved, and the resolve was highly laudable. He would 
have no duke who controlled such a following as 
did Cesare, using those States as stepping-stones to 
greater dominions in which, no doubt, he would 
later have absorbed them, alienating them, so, from 
the Holy See. 

In all this Julius II was most fully justified. The 
odious matter in his conduct, however, is the abomin- 
able treachery it entailed, following as it did upon 
the undertaking by virtue of which he gained the 

For some months after his arrival in Spain, Cesare 
was confined in the prison of Chinchilla, whence — 
as a result, it is said, of an attempt on his part to throw 
the governor bodily over the battlements — he was 



removed to the fortress of Medina del Campo, and 
kept well guarded by orders of the Pope. 

Rumours that he had been liberated by the King 
of Spain overran the Romagna more than once, and 
set the country in a ferment, even reaching the Vatican 
and shaking the stout-hearted Julius into alarm. 

One chance of regaining his ancient might, and 
wreaking a sweet and terrific vengeance upon his 
betrayers came very close to him, but passed him 
by. This chance occurred in 1505, when — Queen 
Isabella being dead — King Ferdinand discovered that 
Gonzalo de Cordoba was playing him false in Naples. 
The Spanish king conceived a plan — according to 
the chronicles of Zurita — to employ Cesare as a flail 
for the punishment of the Great Captain. He pro- 
posed to liberate the duke, set him at the head of 
an army, and loose him upon Naples, trusting to the 
formidable alliance of Cesare's military talents with 
his hatred of Gonzalo — who had betrayed him — to 
work the will of his Catholic Majesty. 

Unfortunately for Cesare, there were difficulties. 
Ferdinand's power was no longer absolute in Castille 
now that Isabella was dead. He sought to overcome 
these difficulties ; but the process was a slow one, 
and in the course of it, spurred also by increased proofs 
of his lieutenant's perfidy, Ferdinand lost patience, 
and determined — the case having grown urgent — to 
go to Naples in person to deal with Gonzalo. 

Plainly, Cesare's good fortune, which once had been 
proverbial, had now utterly deserted him. 

He had received news of what was afoot, and his 
hopes had run high once more, only to suffer cruel 
frustration when he learnt that Ferdinand had sailed, 
himself, for Naples. In his despair the duke roused 
himself to a last effort to win his freedom. 

His treatment in prison was fairly liberal, such as 
is usually measured out to state prisoners of considera- 
tion. He was allowed his own chaplain and several 


attendants, and, whilst closely guarded and confined 
to the Homenaje Tower of the fortress, yet he was not 
oppressively restrained. He was accorded certain 
privileges and liberties ; he enjoyed the faculty of cor- 
responding with the outer world, and even of receiving 
visits. Amongst his visitors was the Count of Bena- 
vente — a powerful lord of the neighbourhood, who, 
coming under the spell of Cesare's fascination, became 
so attached to him, and so resolved to do his will 
and effect his liberation, that — says Zurita — ^he was 
prepared even to go the length of accomplishing it 
by force of arms should no other way present itself.-^ 

Another way, however, did present itself, and 
Benavente and the duke hatched a plot of evasion in 
which they had the collaboration of the chaplain and 
a servant of the governor's, named Garcia. 

One September night a cord was let down from the 
crenels of the tower, and by this the duke was to 
descend from his window to the castle ditch, where 
Benavente's men awaited him. Garcia was to go 
with him since, naturally, it would not be safe for 
the servants to remain behind, and Garcia now let 
himself down that rope, hand over hand, from the 
terrible height of the duke's window. It was only 
when he had reached the end of it that he discovered 
that the rope was not long enough, and that below 
him there was still a chasm that might well have 
appalled even desperate men. 

To return was impossible. The duke above was 
growing impatient. Garcia loosed his hold, and 
dropped the remainder of the distance, breaking both 
his legs in the fall. Groaning, he lay there in the ditch, 
whilst hand over hand now came the agile, athletic 
duke, unconscious of his predecessor's fate, and of 
what awaited him at the end. He reached it, and 
was dangling there, perhaps undecided whether or 

^ Sanuto confirms Zurita, in the main, by letters received by the 
Venetian Senate. 


not to take that daring leap, when suddenly his doubts 
were resolved for him. His evasion was already dis- 
covered. The castle was in alarm, and some one 
above him cut the rope and precipitated him into 
the ditch. 

Benavente's men — we do not know how many of 
them were at hand — ran to him instantly. They found 
him seriously injured, and that he, too, had broken 
bones is beyond doubt. They lifted him up, and bore 
him with all speed to the horses. They contrived, 
somehow, to mount him upon one, and, holding him 
in the saddle, they rode off as fast as was possible under 
the circumstances. There was no time to go back 
for the unfortunate Garcia. The castle was all astir 
by now to stop the fugitives, and to have returned 
would have been to suffer capture themselves as well 
as the duke, without availing the servant. 

So poor Garcia was left to his fate. He was found 
by the governor where he had fallen, and he was 
immediately put to death. 

If the people of Medina organized a pursuit it 
availed them nothing, for Cesare was carried safely 
to Benavente's stronghold at Villalon. 

There he lay for some five or six weeks to recover 
from the hurts he had taken in escaping, and to allow 
his hands — the bones of which were broken — to 
become whole again. At last, being in the main 
recovered, though with hands still bandaged, he set 
out with two attendants and made for Santander. 
Thence they took ship to Castro Urdiales, Cesare 
aiming now at reaching the kingdom of Navarre 
and the protection of his brother-in-law the king. 

At the inn at Santander, where, weary and famished, 
they sat down to dine after one of the grooms had 
made arrangements for a boat, they had a near escape 
of capture. The alcalde, hearing of the presence of 
these strangers, and his suspicions being aroused by 
the recklessly high price they had agreed to pay the 


owner of the vessel which they had engaged, came to 
examine them. But they had a tale ready that they 
were wheat-merchants in great haste to reach Bernico, 
that a cargo of wheat awaited them there, and that 
they would suffer great loss by delay. The tale was 
smooth enough to satisfy the alcalde, and they were 
allowed to depart. They reached Castro Urdiales 
safely, but were delayed there for two days, owing to 
the total lack of horses ; and they were forced, in the 
end, to proceed upon mules obtained from a neigh- 
bouring convent. On these they rode to Durango, 
where they procured two fresh mules and a horse, and 
so, after further similar vicissitudes, they arrived at 
Pampeluna on December 3, 1506, and Cesare startled 
the Court of his brother-in-law. King Jean of Navarre, 
by suddenly appearing in it — " like the devil." 

The news of his evasion had already spread to 
Italy and set it in a ferment, inspiring actual fear at 
the Vatican. The Romagna was encouraged by it 
to break out into open and armed insurrection against 
the harsh rule of Julius II — who seems to have been 
rendered positively vindictive towards the Romag- 
nuoli by their fidelity to Valentinois. Thus had 
the Romagna fallen again into the old state of in- 
sufferable oppression from which Cesare had once 
delivered it. The hopes of the Romagnuoli rose in a 
measure, as the alarm spread among the enemies of 
Cesare — for Florence and Venice shared now the 
anxiety of the Vatican. Zurita, commenting upon 
this state of things, pays Cesare the following compli- 
ment, which the facts confirm as just : 

" The duke was such that his very presence was 
enough to set all Italy agog ; and he was greatly 
beloved, not only by men of war, but also by many 
people of Tuscany and of the States of the Church." 

Cesare's wife — Charlotte d'Albret — whom he had 


not seen since that September of 1499, was at Bourges 
at the Court of her friend, the saintly, repudiated first 
wife of Louis XIL It is to be supposed that she 
would be advised of her husband's presence at her 
brother's Court ; but there is no information on this 
score, nor do we know that they ever met. 

Within four days of reaching Pampeluna Cesare 
dispatched his secretary Federico into Italy to bear 
the news of his escape to his sister Lucrezia at Ferrara, 
and a letter to Francesco Gonzaga, of Mantua, which 
was little more than one of introduction, the more 
important matters to be conveyed to Gonzaga going, 
no doubt, by word of mouth. Federico was arrested 
at Bologna by order of Julius II, after he had discharged 
his mission. 

France was now Cesare's only hope, and he wrote 
to Louis begging his royal leave to come to take his 
rank as a prince of that country, and to serve her. 

You may justly have opined, long since, that the 
story here set down is one never-ending record of 
treacheries and betrayals. But you will find little 
to surpass the one to come. The behaviour of Louis 
at this juncture is contemptible beyond words, obey- 
ing as it does the maxim of that age, which had it 
that no inconvenient engagement should be observed 
if there was opportunity for breaking it. 

Following this detestable maxim, Louis XII had 
actually gone the length of never paying to Charlotte 
d'Albret the dot of 100,000 livres Tournois, to which 
he had engaged himself by written contract. When 
Cesare, in prison at Medina and in straits for money, 
had solicited payment through his brother-in-law of 
Navarre, his claim had been contemptuously dis- 

But there was worse to follow. Louis now answered 
Cesare's request for leave to come to France by a letter 
(quoted in full by M. Yriarte from the Archives des 
Basses Pyrenees) in which his Very Christian Majesty 


announces that the duchy of Valentinois and the 
County of Dyois have been restored to the crown of 
France, as also the lordship of Issoudun. And then 
follows the pretext, of whose basely paltry quality 
you shall judge for yourselves. It runs : 

" After the decease of the late Pope Alexander, 
when our people and our army were seeking the re- 
covery of the kingdom of Naples, he [Cesare] went 
over to the side of our enemies, serving, favouring, 
and assisting them at arms and otherwise against 
ourselves and our said people and army, which re- 
sulted to us in great and irrecoverable loss^ 

The climax is in the deliberate falsehood contained 
in the closing words. Poor Cesare, who had served 
France at her call — in spite of what was rumoured 
of his intentions — as long as he had a man-at-arms 
to follow him, had gone to Naples only in the hour 
of his extreme need. True, he had gone to offer 
himself to Spain as a condottiero when naught else 
was left to him ; but he took no army with him — 
he went alone, a servant, not an ally, as that false 
letter pretends. He had never come to draw his 
sword against France, and certainly no loss had been 
suffered by France in consequence of any action of 
his. Louis's army was definitely routed at Garigliano, 
with Cesare's troops fighting in its ranks. 

But Pope Alexander was dead ; Cesare's might in 
in Italy was dissipated ; his credit gone. There lay 
no profit for Louis in keeping faith with him ; there 
lay some profit in breaking it. Alas, that a king should 
stain his honour with base and vulgar lies to minister 
to his cupidity, and that he should set them down 
above his seal and signature to shame him through 
centuries still in the womb of Time ! 

Cesare Borgia, landless, without right to any title, 
he that had held so many, betrayed and abandoned 
on every side, had now nothing to offer in the world's 


market but his stout sword and his glad courage. 
These went to the first bidder for them, who happened 
to be his brother-in-law King Jean. 

Navarre at the time was being snarled and quarrelled 
over by France and Spain, both menacing its inde- 
pendence, each pretending to claims upon it which 
do not, in themselves, concern us. 

In addition, the country itself was torn by two 
factions — the Be^umontes and the Agramontes — and 
it was entrusted to Cesare to restore Navarre to peace 
and unity at home before proceeding — with the aid 
upon which he depended from the Emperor Maxi-. 
milian — to deal with the enemies beyond her frontiers. 

The Castle of Viana was being held by Louis de 
Beaumont — chief of the faction that bore his name 
— and refused to surrender to the king. To reduce 
it and compel Beaumont to obedience went Cesare 
as Captain-General of Navarre, early in February of 
1507. He commanded a considerable force, some 
10,000 strong, and with this and his cannon he laid 
siege to the citadel. 

The natural strength of the place was such as might 
have defied any attempt to reduce it by force ; but 
victuals were running low, and there was every likeli- 
hood of its being speedily starved into surrender. 
To frustrate this, Beaumont conceived the daring 
plan of attempting to send in supplies from Mendavia. 
The attempt being made secretly, by night and under 
a strong escort, was entirely successful ; but, in re- 
treating, the Beaumontese were surprised in the dawn 
of that February morning by a troop of reinforce- 
ments coming to Cesare's camp. These, at sight of 
the rebels, immediately gave the alarm. 

The most hopeless confusion ensued in the town, 
where it was at once imagined that a surprise attack 
was being made upon the Royalists, and that they 
had to do with the entire rebel army. 

Cesare, being aroused by the din and the blare of 


trumpets calling men to arms, sprang for his weapons, 
armed himself in haste, flung himself on a "horse, 
and, without pausing so much as to issue a command 
to his waiting men-at-arms, rode headlong down the 
street to the Puerta del Sol. Under the archway 
of the gate his horse stumbled and came down with 
him. With an oath, Cesare wrenched the animal to 
its feet again, gave it the spur, and was away at a mad, 
furious gallop in pursuit of the retreating Beaumont 

The citizens, crowding to the walls of Viana, 
watched that last reckless ride of his with amazed, 
uncomprehending eyes. The peeping sun caught 
his glittering armour as he sped, so that of a sudden 
he must have seemed to them a thing of fire — meteoric, 
as had been his whole life's trajectory which was 
now swiftly dipping to its nadir. 

Whether he was frenzied with the lust of battle, 
riding in the reckless manner that was his wont, 
confident that his men followed, yet too self-centred 
to ascertain, or whether — as seems more likely — it 
was simply that his horse had bolted with him, will 
never be known until all things are known. 

Suddenly he was upon the rearguard of the fleeing 
rebels. His sword flashed up and down ; again and 
again they may have caught the gleam of it from 
Viana's walls, as he smote the foe. Irresistible as a 
thunderbolt, he clove himself a way through those 
Beaumontese. He was alone once more, a flying, 
dazzling figure of light, away beyond that rearguard 
which he left scathed and disordered by his furious 
passage. Still his mad career continued, and he bore 
down upon the main body of the escort. 

Beaumont sat his horse to watch, in such amaze- 
ment as you may conceive, the wild approach of this 
unknown rider. 

Seeing him unsupported, some of the count's 
men detached themselves to return and meet this 


single foe and oblige him with the death he so 
obviously appeared to seek. 

They hedged him about — we do not know their 
number — and, engaging him, they drew him from 
the road and down into the hollow space of a ravine. 

And so, in the thirty-second year of his age, and in 
all the glory of his matchless strength, his soul pos- 
sessed of the lust of combat, sword in hand, warding 
off the attack that rains upon him, and dealing death 
about him, he meets his end. From the walls of Viana 
his resplendent armour renders him still discernible, 
until, like a sun to its setting, he passes below the rim 
of that ravine, and is lost to the watcher's view. 

Death awaited him amid the shadows of that hollow 

Unhorsed by now, he fought with no concern for 
the odds against him, and did sore execution upon 
his assailants, ere a sword could find an opening in his 
guard to combine with a gap in his armour and so drive 
home. That blade had found, maybe, his lungs. Still 
he swung his sword, swaying now upon his loosening 
knees. His mouth was full of blood. It was growing 
dark. His hands began to fail him. He reeled like a 
drunkard, sapped of strength, and then the end came 
quickly. Blows unwarded showered upon him now. 

He crashed down in all the glory of his rich armour, 
which those brigand-soldiers already coveted. And 
thus he died — mercifully, maybe happily, for he had 
no time in which to taste the bitterness of death — 
that awful draught which he had forced upon so many. 

Within a few moments of his falling, this man who 
had been a living force, whose word had carried law 
from the Campagna to the Bolognese, was so much 
naked, blood-smeared carrion — for those human vul- 
tures stripped him to the skin ; his very shirt must 
they have. And there, a stark, livid corpse, of no 
more account than any dog that died last Saturday, 
they left Cesare Borgia of France, Duke of Romagna 



and Valentinois, Prince of Andria, and Lord of a 
dozen Tyrannies. 

The body was found there anon by those who so 
tardily rode after their leader, and his dismayed 
troopers bore those poor remains to Viana. The king, 
arriving there that very day, horror-stricken at the 
news and sight that awaited him, ordered Cesare a 
magnificent funeral, and so he was laid to rest before 
the High Altar of Sainte Marie de Viane. 

To rest ? May the soul of him rest at least, for 
men — Christian men — have refused to vouchsafe that 
privilege to his poor ashes. 

Nearly two hundred years later — at the close of 
the seventeenth century, a priest of God and a bishop, 
one who preached a gospel of love and mercy so in- 
finite that he dared believe by its lights no man to 
have been damned, came to disturb the dust of Cesare 
Borgia. This Bishop of Calahorra — lineal descendant 
in soul of that Pharisee who exalted himself in God's 
House, thrilled with titillations of delicious horror at 
the desecrating presence of the base publican — had 
his pietist's eyes offended by the slab that marked 
Cesare Borgia's resting-place.^ 

^ It bore the following legend : 


which, more or less literally may be Englished as follows : " Here 
in a little earth, lies one whom all did fear ; one whose hands dispensed 
both peace and war. Oh, you that go in search of things deserving 
praise, if you would praise the worthiest, then let your journey end 
here, nor trouble to go farther.'* 


The pious, Christian bishop had read of this 
man — ^perhaps that life of him pubHshed hy the 
apostate Gregorio Leti under the pen-name of Tom- 
maso Tommasi, which had lately seen the light — 
and he ordered the tomb's removal from that holy 
place. And thus it befell that the ashes of Cesare 
Borgia were scattered and lost. 

Charlotte d'Albret was bereft of her one friend, 
Queen Jeanne, in that same year of Cesare's death. 
The Duchess of Valentinois withdrew to La Motte- 
Feuilly, and for the seven years remaining of her life 
was never seen other than in mourning ; her very 
house was equipped with sombre, funereal furniture, 
and so maintained until her end, which supports the 
view that she had conceived affection and respect 
for the husband of whom she had seen so little. 

On March 14, 1514, that poor lady passed from a 
life which appears to have offered her few joys. 

Louise de Valentinois — a handsome damsel of the 
age of fourteen — remained for three years under the 
tutelage of the Duchess of Angouleme — the mother 
of King Francis I — to whom Charlotte d'Albret 
had entrusted her child. Louise married, at the age 
of seventeen, Louis de la Tremouille, Prince de Tal- 
mont and Vicomte de Thouars, known as the Knight 
Sans Peur et Sans Reproche. She maintained some 
correspondence with her aunt, Lucrezia Borgia, whom 
she had never seen, and ever signed herself " Louise 
de Valentinois." At the age of thirty — ^Tremouille 
having been killed at Pa via — she married, in second 
nuptials, Philippe de Bourbon-Busset. 

Lucrezia died in 1519, one year after her mother, 
Vanozza de' Catanei, with whom she corresponded 
to the end. 

Requiescant ! 




Acton, Lord— quoted, 76 

Alberini, Giulio — 180 

Albret, Alain d' — 187 

Albret, Amanieu d' — cardinal's 
hat demanded for, 187 ; goes 
to Rome, 317 

Albret, Charlotte d' — negotiations 
for her hand, 187 ; marries 
Cesare Borgia, 188 ; appointed 
by C.B. his administrator in 
Dauphiny, 189 ; illness, 317 ; 
at Bourges, 445 ; her mourning 
and death, 451 

Albret, Jean d' (King of Navarre) 
— 186 ; shelters Cesare Borgia, 
444 ; creates C.B. his captain- 
general, 447 ; buries C.B., 450 

Alexander VI., Pope {See Cardinal 
Roderigo Borgia) — his election, 
62 ; reception by the Italian 
Powers, 70 ; his election simo- 
niacal, 72 ; crowned, 78 
negotiates with Naples, 85 
breaks off negotiations, 86 
grants America to Spain, 89 
at Lucre zia Borgia's marriage 
to Giovanni Sforza, 91 ; peace 
with Naples, 97 ; creates twelve 
cardinals, 98 ; builds Borgia 
Tower, 102 ; opposes French 
designs on Naples, 104 ; re- 
fuses passage to French troops, 
108 ; his volte- face, 109 ; ap- 
peals to Bajazet, 112 ; treats 
with Charles VIII., 113 ; ac- 
cused of poisoning Djem, 115 ; 
joins northern league, 120 ; 
leaves Rome, 121 ; at Perugia, 
122 ; visits Colomba da Rieti, 
1 25 ; his attitude towards the 
supernatural, 126 ; considered 
as a churchman, 128 ; invents 
the missionary, 129 ; invents 
the Index Expurgatorius, 130 ; 
devotion to Blessed Virgin, 

130 ; appeals to Gonzalo da 
Cordoba, 134 ; in the mur- 
der of Gandia, 140 ; broken- 
hearted, 162 ; proposes reform 
of the Church, 163 ; Bull 
against traffic in indulgences, 
165 ; plans marriage for Cesare 
Borgia, 168 ; appoints com- 
mission to examine Louis XIL's 
claim to be divorced, 170 ; his 
devotion to Blessed Virgin, 

171 ; proposes investiture of 
C.B. in Duchy of Valentinois, 

172 ; consents to C.B.'s de- 
position of the purple, 174 ; 
attaches patricians to himself, 
180; his pride in C.B., 181; 
enters into alliance with France 
and Venice, 188 ; proclaims 
intentions concerning Romagna, 
192 ; Bull against the Lord 
Vicars, 194 ; plot to poison 
him, 196 ; his joy at C.B.'s re- 
turn from France, 219 ; creates 
C.B. Vicar of Imola and Forli, 
and Gonfalonier, 223 ; cere- 
mony of investiture, 224 ; re- 
quests French troops for C.B. , 
226 ; the Jubilee, 227 ; in 
murder of Alfonso of Aragoa, 
236; reconciliation with Venice, 
242 ; raises funds for C.B.'s 
campaign, 246; "sale" of 
cardinals' hats, 247 ; threatens 
Bentivogh with excommuni- 
cation, 262 ; complains to 
France of BentivogU, 267 ; accu- 
sation against him concerning 
Manfredi, 282 ; recalls C.B., 
287 ; Bull against Federigo of 
Naples, 295 ; blesses troops, 
296 ; Bull against the barons, 
301 ; Bulls regarding Giovanni 
Borgia, 302 ; Bull of confirma- 
tion to the House of Este, 303 ; 




attack upon, 304 ; the supper 
of the courtesans, 305 ; the 
affair of the stallions, 306 ; at- 
titude towards Ubel, 311 ; goes 
to Piombino, 317 ; in storm at 
sea, 318 ; summons Bentivogli 
to Rome, 340 ; hears of the re- 
volt of the condotiieri, 346; 
proclaims confessions of Ramiro 
de Lorqua, 380 ; accuses the 
Orsini in Consistory, 383 ; orders 
release of Panthasilea d'Alvi- 
ano, 387 ; recalls d!fe?, • 389 ; : 
accused of poisoning Cardinal 
Orsini, 390 ; accused of poison- 
ing Cardinal Michieli, 391 ; the 
charges of poisoning examined, 
394 ; sups at Cardinal Corneto's, 
405 ; his death, 406 ; stories 
concerning his death, 409 ; 
scandalous circumstances of his 
obsequies, 411 ; rumour that 
he died of poison, 412 

Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Bi- 
selli — marries Lucrezia Borgia, 
168 ; in attendance upon Cesare 
Borgia, 220 ; assaulted, 230 ; 
death, 231 

Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples 
— crowned, 107 ; abdicates, 115 

AU^gre, Yves d' — commands 
French lances under Cesare 
Borgia, 199 ; receives surrender 
of Forlimpopoli, 210 ; leaves 
ForH with C.B., 216; recalled 
to Milan, 217 ; returns to C.B., 
242 ; at Modena, 268 ; with 
Manenti, 269 ; at Capua, 298 

Almeida, Fernando d' (Bishop of 
Ceuta,)— 185 

Almerici — quoted, 136 

Alviano, Bartolomeo d' — Bull 
against, 132 ; in Bracciano, 
133 ; accused of murder of 
Gandia, 146 ; demands his 
wife's release. 387 ; invades the 
Romagna, 420 ; routed, 421 ; 
goes to Rome, 424 

Alviano, Panthasilea Baglioni d' 
— captured, 386 ; imprisoned, 
387 ; released, 388 

Amboise, Georges d' — 173 ; Cesare 
Borgia bears him the red hat, 
179 ; receives C.B. at Chinon, 
183 ; suggests Florence make 
terms with C.B., 332 ; his am- 
bitions, 338 ; election to Papacy 

desired by Louis XII., 421 ; 

threatens C.B.'s, enemies, 425 
Ammanati, Giacopo — at Siena 

with Roderigo Borgia, 37 ; 

quoted, 42 
Anghiera, Pietro Martire d' — 

criticism of, 152 ; on death of 

Alexander VI., 413 
Anne of Brittany — married to 

Louis XII., 185 
Appiano, Giacomo d' — tyrant of 

Piombino, 291 ; deposed by 

Cesare Borgia, 292 ; restored. 

by Florence, 418 
Aquila, Serafino Cimino da — , 

patronized by Cesare Borgia, 

Aubigny, d' — Captain-General of 

French army, 121 ; withdraws 

from Naples, 131 ; leaves Rome, 

Aubusson, d' (Grand Master of 

Rhodes) — iii 
Auton, Jean d' — quoted, 296 

Baglioni, Gianpaolo — joins Cesare 
Borgia, 243 ; supports Vitelli, 
323; plots against C.B., 343; 
seizes Cagh, 358 ; enters Fano, 
359 ; absent from Sinigaglia, 
373 ; at Perugia, 385 ; his 
flight to Siena, 386 ; supported 
by Florence, 418 ; at Rome, 
424 ; routs Corella, 433 

Bajazet, Sultan — iii ; allowance 
to Pope, 112 ; seeks death of 
Djem, 113 

Basche, Peron de — envoy of 
France, 98 ; threatens Alex- 
ander VI., 104 

Bastards — their social position, 

Beaumont, Louis de — holds Viana, 


Benavente, Count of — befriends 
Cesare Borgia, 442 

Bentivogh, Ercole — raises troops 
for Cesare Borgia, 199 ; in 
garrison at ForU, 217 ; quells 
riot a* Cesena, 250 ; marches 
(on r-esaro, 254 

Bentivogh, Giovanni (Lord of 
Bologna), 226 ; assists Maa- 
fredi, 261 ; his danger, 267 ; 
compromises with Cesare Borgia, 
268 ; alarmed by C.B.'s ad- 
vance, 284 ; treats with C.B., 



285 ; loses French protection, 
340 ; summoned to Rome, 341 ; 
seeks to treat with C.B., 345 ; 
takes the offensive, 359 ; makes 
fresh treaty with C.B., 364 ; 
attacks Imola, 425 

Bentivogh, Hermes — murders the 
Marescotti, 286 ; in Diet of 
Magione, 343 

Biselli, Duke of — {See Alfonso of 

Boccaccio, Gianandrea — letter to 
Ferrara, 92 ; his pen-portrait 
of Cesare Borgia, 93 

Boccaccio, Giovanni — II Decamer- 
one, 6 

Bonadies, Hieronimo — Seneschal 
of Cesena, etc., 398 

Borgia, Alfonso — (5««CalixtusIII.) 

Borgia, Cesare — references to, 11, 
14, 15 ; birth, 46 ; Bulls con- 
cerning, 48 ; benefices of, 54 ; 
student, 57 ; at Spoleto, 80 ; 
letter to Piero de' Medici, 81 ; 
created Bishop of Valencia, 81 ; 
at Rome, 93 ; created cardinal, 
10 1 ; governor of Orvieto, 
103 ; waits upon Charles VIII., 
Ill ; hostage, 113 ; escapes, 
114 ; returns to Vatican, 115 ; 
leaves Rome with Alexan- 
der VI., i2t ; at Perugia, 125 ; 
concerned in flight of Giovanni 
Sforza, 136 ; pen-portrait of, 
137 '» legate a latere, 138 ; at 
Vannozza's supper, 139 ;• ac- 
cused of murder of Gandia, 
146 ; the charge examined, 
147 ; administers estates of 
Gandia' s son, 166 ; at Naples, 
167 ; his marriage to Carlotta 
of Aragon proposed, 171; created 
Duke of Valentinois, 173 ; re- 
nounces the purple, 174 ; pre- 
pares to visit France, 179 ; de- 
parture, 180 ; entertained by 
della Rovere, 181 ; arrives at 
Ghinon, 182 ; welcomed by 
Louis XII., 183 ; baffled by 
Carlotta, 184 ; accused of caus- 
ing death of Bishop of Ceuta, 
185 ; marries Charlotte d'Al- 
bret, 186 ; leaves France, 189 ; 
at Milan, 192 ; his task in the 
Romagna, 193 ; served by della 
Rovere, 197 ; takes the field, 
199 ; at Rome, 201 ; " minister 

of divine justice," 203 ; enters 
Imola, 204 ; marches on Forli. 
205 ; enters ForU, 206 ; be- 
sieges the citadel, 207 ; narrow 
escape of, 208 ; reduces the 
citadel, 209 ; restores order, 
2 10 ; prepares to invade Pe- 
saro, 213; accused of poison- 
ing Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, 
214 ; quells mutiny of Swiss, 
216; deprived of French forces, 
217 ; returns to Rome, 218 ; 
triumphal entrance, 219 ; re- 
ception by his father, 221 ; his 
sword of honour, 222 ; created 
Lord Vicar and Gonfalonier, 
223 ; ceremony of investiture, 
224 ; appoints a lieutenant- 
general, 225 ; his growing fame, 
227 ; in bull-fight, 227 ; his 
Court, 228 ; his edict after as- 
sault upon BiseUi, 231 ; accused 
of murdering Biselh, 235 ; his 
motives, 240 ; treaty with 
Louis XII., 241 ; honoured 
by Venice, 242 ; raises fresh 
army, 243 ; leaves Rome, 250 ; 
enters Pesaro, 255 ; his dis- 
cipline, 256 ; enters Rimini, 
257 ; his administration, 258 ; 
marches on Faenza, 260 ; Benti- 
vogli schemes against him, 261 ; 
demands surrender of Faenza, 
262 ; bombards Faenza, 263 ; 
goes into winter quarters, 264 ; 
moves to Cesena, 265 ; com- 
promises with Bentivogli, 268 ; 
accused of abducting Dorotea 
Caracciolo, 269 ; denies the 
imputation, 270 ; the matter 
critically considered, 272 ; his 
attitude towards women, 273 ; 
resumes attack on Faenza, 275 ; 
entertains proposals of surren- 
der, 277 ; his forbearance, 278 ; 
takes Manfredi to Rome, 281 ; 
accusations against him, 282 ; 
invades the Bolognese, 284 ; 
makes treaty with Bentivogli, 
285 ; demolishes Castel Bolog- 
nese, 286 ; recalled to Rome, 
287 ; enters Tuscany, 288 ; re-^ 
ceives Florentine envoys, 289 ; 
treaty with Florence, 290 ; 
moves against Piombino, 291 ; 
returns to Rome, 293 ; ad- 
ministration of Faenza, 294 ; 



Lord of Fano, 295 ; supports 
French, 296 ; in sack of Capua, 
297 ; enters Naples, 300 ; re- 
turns to Rome, 301 ; the supper 
of the courtesans, 305 ; anger at 
Letter to Silvio Savelli, 311; his 
reception of the Estes, 315 ; 
conspicuous in festivities at 
Vatican, 316 ; at Piombino, 
317 ; patronizes printing, 320 ; 
plans for Central Italy, 321 ; 
neutraUty in VitelU's opera- 
tions against Florence, 323 ; de- 
clines offer of Pisa, 324 ; 
attacks Camerino, 325 ; strategy 
against Urbino, 327 ; seizes 
CagU, 328 ; enters Urbino, 330 ; 
his character by Soderini, 331 ; 
receives French herald, 332 ; 
his secret advices from France, 

333 ; writes to Lucrezia Borgia, 

334 ; orders Vitelli out of Tus- 
cany, 336 ; cordially received 
by Louis XII., 337 ; his conduct 
towards his condottieri, 338 ; 
at Genoa, 339 ; his treaty with 
Louis XIL, 340 ; the defection 
of the Orsini, 342 ; the diet of 
Magione, 343 ; his forces re- 
duced, 344 ; levies fresh troops, 
346 ; treats with Florence, 351 : 
his government criticized, 352 ; 
his reception of Macchiavelli, 
356 ; his answer to the con- 
dottieri, 358 ; betrayed again 
by the condottieri, 359 ; receives 
their fresh proposals, 360 ; con- 
fides in Macchiavelli, 361 ; 
makes alliance with Benti- 
vogli, 364 ; presses for a Floren- 
tine condotta, 366 ; moves to 
Cesena, 367 ; prepares to con- 
quer Sinigaglia, 368 ; arrests 
Ramiro de Lorqua, 369 ; puts 
him to death, 370 ; sets out 
for Sinigaglia, 372 ; enters 
SinigagUa, 375 ; his bearing 
towards the condottieri, 376 ; 
his words to MacchiaveUi, 377 ; 
puts Vitelli and OUverotto to 
death, 378 ; his own account of 
the affair, 379 ; criticized, 380 ; 
seizes Citta di Castello, 385 ; 
Perugia and Fermo surrender 
to him, 386 ; slanders, against 
him in connection with Pantha- 
silea d'Alviano, 387 ; receives 

congratulations on the affair of 
SinigagUa, 388 ; puts Paolo and 
Francesco Orsini to death, and 
compels Siena to expel Petrucci, 
389 ; takes measures against 
Venetian hostility, 398 ; his 
liberal government, 399 ; his 
military organization, 400 ; his 
edict against Troche, 403 ; pre- 
pares to join French army in 
Naples, 405 ; dangerously ill, 
406 ; takes measures on death 
of his father, 408 ; concerned 
in poison rumours, 412 ; stories 
of his recovery, 413 ; his 
enemies rise against him, 417 ; 
makes alliance with Colonna, 

418 ; withdraws from Rome, 

419 ; at Nepi, 420 ; confirmed 
in all his offices by Pius III., 
422 ; his powerlessness, 423 ; 
retreats to Sant'Angelo, 424; 
at deatli of Pius III., 425 ; his 
treaty with della Rovere, 427 ; 
prepares to go into Romagna, 
430 ; his ruin foreshadowed, 

431 ; leaves Rome, 431 ; de- 
tained by order of JuUus II., 

432 ; brought back to Rome. 

433 ; his ruin, 434 ; goes to 
Naples, 435 ; arrested, 437 ; 
sent to Spain, 438 ; imprisoned, 
440 ; befriended by Bena- 
vente, 442 ; his escape, 443 ; 
reaches Navarre, 444 ; appeals 
to Louis XIL, 445 ; rejected by 
France, 446 ; Captain-General 
of Navarre, 447 ; killed, 449 ; 
his tomb, 450 ; his ashes scat- 
tered, 451 

Borgia, Francesco (Archbishop of 
Cosenza) — accompanies remains 
of Biselli, 232 

Borgia, Saint Francis de — 166 

Borgia, Giovanni (second Duke of 
Gandia) — birth, 46 ; succeeds to 
duchy of Gandia, 57 ; recalled 
to Rome, 132 ; created Gon- 
falonier, 133 ; routed, 134 ; ia 
Rome, 135 ; created Duke of 
Benevento, 137 ; at Vannozza's 
supper, 139 ; murdered, 140 ; 
probable motives of murder, 157 

Borgia, Giovanni (third Duke oi 
Gandia) — 166 

Borgia, Giovanni (Cardinal of 
Santa Maria) — crowns Alfonso of 



Naples, 107 ; papal legate, 205 ; 
his death, 213 

Borgia. Giovanni (Cardinal of 
Monrfeale) — at Vannozza's sup- 
per, 139 ; receives Cesare Bor- 
gia, 219 

Borgia, Giovanni [Infanti Romano) 
— created Duke of Nepi, 301 ; 
his parentage, 302 

Borgia, Girolama — birth, 39 ; mar- 
riage, 54 ; death, 54 

Borgia, Girolama — marries Fabio 
Orsini, 180 

Borgia, Giuffredo. Prince of Squil- 
lace — birth, 54 ; betrothed to 
Sancia of Aragon, 97 ; goes to 
Naples, 107 ; in Pontifical 
army, 131 ; suspected of mur- 
der of Gandia, 145 ; in attend- 
ance on Cesare Borgia, 220 ; 
warring against barons, 389 ; 
at Nepi, 420 ; at Naples, 435 

Borgia, Cardinal Lodovico — flight 
from Rome, 434 ; at Naples, 

Borgia, Lucrezia — reference to, 
13 ; birth, 46 ; in Rome, 56 ; 
marries Giovanni Sforza, 90 ; 
her grievance against her hus- 
band, 135 ; her warning to 
Giovanni Sforza, 136 ; di- 
vorced, 154 ; marries Biselli, 
168 ; bears a son, 230 ; in 
murder of Biselli, 235 ; at Nepi, 
250 ; betrothed to Alfonso 
d'Este, 301 ; her dowry, 303 ; 
festivities on her betrothal, 

304 ; scandals concerning her, 

305 ; leaves for Ferrara, 316 ; 
efforts on behalf of Cesare 
Borgia, 440 ; her death, 451 

Borgia, Pedro Luis de—Gon- 
falonier, 29 ; his flight and 
death, 30 

Borgia, Pedro Luis de (first Duke 
of Gandia) — birth, 39 ; death, 54 

Borgia, Cardinal Roderigo — re- 
ference to, 8 ; raised to the 
purple, 28 ; at the death of 
Calixtus III., 30 ; at the elec- 
tion of Pius XL, 31 ; letter to 
him from Pius IL, 32 ; acknow- 
ledges his children, 39 ; under 
pontificate of Sixtus IV., 43 ; 
his mistress, 44 ; stupendous 
wealth of, 54 ; elected Pope, 62 
{See Alexander VI.) 

Borgia d'Aragona, Roderigo (Lu- 
crezia'sson) — birth, 230; created 
Duke of Sermoneta, 301 ; be- 
trothed, 418 

Bracci (Ambassador of Ferrara) — 
on death of Gandia, 145 

Bramante — patronized by Cesare 
Borgia, 228 

Brown, Rawdon — quoted, 9 

Buonaccorsi — on the affair of 
SinigagUa, 376 

Buonarroti, Michelangelo — patro 
nized by Cesare Borgia, 228 ; 
his " Cupid," 229 

Burchard, Joannes (Master of 
Ceremonies) — his Diarium, 13 ; 
on death of Djem, 117 ; men- 
tions Giovanni Sforza, 135 ; on 
murder of Gandia, 143 ; on 
death of Pedro Caldes, 150 ; 
quoted, 167 ; present at meet- 
ing between Pope and Cesare 
Borgia, 221 ; at investiture of 
C.B. as Gonfalonier, 224 ; on 
murder of Biselli, 230 ; criti- 
cized, 239 ; on death of Man- 
fredi, 282 ; on sack of Capua, 
297 ; on parentage of Giovanni 
Borgia, 302 ; on supper of the 
courtesans, 305 ; on the affair 
of the stallions, 307 ; on death 
of Cardinal of Modena, 395 ; on 
death of Alexander VI., 406; 
describes Pope's remains, 411 ; 
on della Rovere's treaty with 
C.B., 427 

Burckhardt, Dr. Jacob — quoted, 
41 ; on Pinzone, 396 ; on 
della Rovere, 427 

Calahorra, Bishop of — desecrates 
the remains of Cesare Borgia, 45 1 

Caldes, Pedro — the story of his 
death, 150, 232 

Calixtus III. Pope (Alonso de 
Borja) — reference to, 8 ; his 
rise, 27 ; his death, 29 

Canale, Carlo — marries Vannozza 
de'Catanei, 55 

Capello, Francesco — on Cesare 
Borgia, 227 ; on murder of 
BiseUi, 239 

Capello, Paolo, on murder oi 
Gandia, 146 ; criticism of, 
150 ; his " Relazione," 232 ; on 
murder of Biselli, 233 ; criti- 
cized, 235 



Capranica, Bartolomeo da — in | 

Cesare Borgia's train, i8o ; j 

C.B.'s camp-master, 242 ; or- i 

dered to Rimini, 351 ; killed, I 

363 ' 

Caracciolo, Dorotea — her abduc- , 
tion, 268 ; reluctant to return 
to her husband, 271 ; restored 
to her husband, 272 

Caracciolo, Gianbattista, 268 ; pe- 
titions Senate, 270 ; his wife 
restored to him, 272 

Caraffa, Cardinal Oliviero, 163 

Carlotta of Aragon — desired as 
wife for Cesare Borgia, 171 ; re- 
pulses suit of C.B., 183 

Carvajal, Bernardino — his elec- 
tion to Papacy desired by Spain, 
422 ; escorts Cesare Borgia to 
Ostia, 435 

Casanova, Cardinal — surrenders 
Pope's keys, 409 

Castagnini — treason of, 262 

CastigHone, Baldassare — II Cor- 
tigiano, 189 

Catanei Vannozza — Rdderigo 
Borgia's mistress, 43 ; her hus- 
band, 45 ; bears Cesare, Gio- 
vanni, and Lucrezia Borgia, 46 ; 
inscription on her tomb, 49 ; 
widowed and remarried, 55 ; 
the supper in her vineyard, 139 ; 
her death, 451 

Charles VIII. (King of France)— 
his claim on Naples, 95 ; council 
held by, 98 ; assumes title of 
King of Sicily, 104 ; crosses the 
Alps,- 107 ; his manifesto, 108 ; 
his army, 109 ; portrait of, 
no; at Rome, in; makes 
treaty with Alexander VI., 113 ; 
Spain's ultimatum to, 114 ; 
occupies Naples, 120 ; returns 
to Rome, 121 ; at Fornovo, 
121 ; death of, 169 

Cibo, Francesco — 59 ; sells papal 
fiefs, 83 

Collenuccio, Pandolfo — at Pesaro, 
255 ; his death, 256 

CoUoredo, Asquino de — his con- 
fession, 391 ; tortured, 436 

Colombo, Cristofero — discovers 
America, 89 

Colonna, Fabrizio — with Gandia, 
134 ; defends Capua, 296 ; cap- 
tive, 299 ; ransomed, 300 

Colonna, Prospero — aids pontifi- 

cals, 134 ; with King of Naples, 
296 ; in service of Spain, 300 ; 
makes alliance with Cesare 
Borgia, 418 

Cordoba, Gonzalo de — lands in 
Calabria, 131 ; besieges Ostia, 
134 ; received by Pope, 135 ; 
in Calabria, 296 ; his victory 
at Garigliano, 435 ; welcomes 
Cesare Borgia, 435 ; arrests 
C.B., 437 

Corella, Michele da — in murder of 
Biselli, 236 ; Cesare Borgia's 
lieutenant in Forli, 265 ; 
Governor of Piombino, 318 ; 
ordered to Pesaro, 351 ; pun- 
ishes rebellion of Fossom- 
brone and Pergola, 357 ; routed 
at Calmazzo, 359 ; strangles 
Pietro Varano, 363 ; at Sini- 
gagha, 374 ; holds Rome, 408 ; 
seizes Pope's treasure, 409 ; 
fires Montegiordano, 417 ; sum- 
moned by Cesare Borgia, 424 ; 
routed and captured, 433 ; ex- 
amined, 436 ; liberated, 438 ; 
enters service of Florence, 

Corio, Bernardino — on death of 
Djem, 116 

Corneto, Cardinal Adriano — the 
supper at his V«illa, 405 ; taken 
ill, 407 

Cossa, Andrea — 398 

Costabili (Ambassador of Ferrara 
— on illness of Alexander VI., 

Costa, Cardinal Giorgio — 163 

Croce, Giorgio deUa — married to 
Vannozza, 45 ; his death, 55 

Dijon — Baihe of — commands foot 
under Cesare Borgia, 199 
mutinies, 215 ; quelled by C.B 

Djem, Prince — his story, in ; his 
death, 115 

Doria, Andrea — defends Sinigaglia, 
372 ; his flight, 385 

Dumas, Alexandre — references to, 
12, 13 

Enriques, Maria (Duchess of 

Gandia) — 132, 165 
Espinois, Henri de 1' — quoted, 

148, 353 



Este, Alfonso d' — betrothed to 
Lucrezia Borgia, 301 ; married, 
317 ; accompanies Cesare Borgia 
to Milan, 336 

Este, Ercole d' — 301 ; bargains I 
for Lucrezia Borgia's dowry, i 
303 ; guarantees alliance be- 
tween Bentivogli and Cesare 
Borgia, 364 

Este, Cardinal Ippolito d' — ar- 
rives in Rome, 315 

Este, Isabella d' (Marchioness 
Gonzaga) — 229 ; sends Cesare 
Borgia a present of masks, 388 

Eufreducci, OHverotto — Lord of 
Fermo by murder, 326 ; rebels 
against Cesare Borgia, 359 ; 
slaughters Borgians in Camerino, 
363 ; at Sinigagha, 373 ; ar- 
rested, 376 ; strangled, 377 ; 
his plot against C.B.'s life, 383 

Fano, Marcantonio da — com- 
mands Romagnuoh troops, 349 

Farnese, Alessandro — raised to 
the purple, 56; his nickname, 98 ; 
dispossessed of governorship, 
132 ; receives Cesare Borgia, 

Farnese, Giulia — becomes Roder- 
igo Borgia's mistress, 56 ; 
painted by Pinturicchio, 102 

Federigo of Aragon (King of 
Naples) — succeeds his brother 
Alfonso, 115; crowned, 167; 
unwilling wed his daughter 
to Cesare Borgia, 168 ; 
sends physician to Biselli, 231 ; 
resists the French, 296 ; 
defeated and deposed, 300 

Feo, Giacomo — murdered, 202 

Ferdinand and Isabella — appeal 
to Pope, 89 ; ultimatum to 
Charles VIII. , 114 ; assist allies 
against France, 131 ; notify 
Pope of treaty with France, 295 

Femo, Michele — quoted, 79 

Ferrante of Aragon (King of 
Naples) on election of Alex- 
ander VL, 65 ; befriends 
Gian Galeazzo Sforza, 82 ; in 
sale of Cervetri and Anguillara, 
83 ; treats with Pope, 84 ; rage 
at being outwitted by Pope, 
86 ; makes peace with Pope, 97 ; 
France declares war against 
bim, 103 ; dies of apoplexy, 103 

Ferrari, Gianbattista (Cardinal of 
Modena) — 305, 311 ; his death, 
394 ; his illness described, 395 

Ficino, Marsilio — a Platonist, 7 

Filelfo — the Satires of, 6 

Florence, Signory of — grants pas- 
sage to Cesare Borgia, 288 ; 
sends C.B. her ambassadors. 
298 ; signs treaty with C.B., 
290 ; complains of Vitelli, 323 ; 
sends Soderini to C.B., 330; 
instructs Soderini to temporize, 
333 ; sends Macchiavelli to 
C.B., 351 ; guarantees treaty 
between Bentivogli and C.B., 
364 ; jealous hostility of, 398 ; 
restores Petrucci, 399 ; sup- 
ports C.B.'s enemies, 418 ; 
checked by France, 420 ; sends 
Macchiavelli to Rome, 429 

Flores Antonio — shelters Cesare 
Borgia, 114 

Florido, Bartolomeo (Bishop of 
Cosenza) prosecuted, 165 

Fogliano, Giovanni (Lord of 
Fermo) — murdered by Eufre- 
ducci, 326 

Fonseca, Antonio da — at VeUetri, 

Fracassa — {See Gasparo Sanse- 

Gandia, Duke of — {See Giovanni 

Garcia — helps Cesare Borgia's es- 
cape from Medina, 442 ; put 
to death, 443 

Gherardi, Agabito — Cesare Bor- 
gia's secretary, 179 ; sent into 
Romagna, 294 ; sent after 
Paolo Orsini, 361 ; urges Co- 
lonna alliance, 418 

Giacomino — Giovanni Sforza's 
chamberlain, 136 

Giorgio — a boatman of the Schia- 
voni — his evidence in murder 
of Gandia, 140 

Giovio, Paolo — describes French 
army, 109 ; on death of Djem, 
116; on death of Cardinal Gio- 
vanni Borgia, 214 ; on the 
poison of the Borgias, 397 ; on 
death of Alexander VI. , 412 

Giustiniani, Antonio — reports on 
drowning of Manfredi, 282 ; on 
death of Cardinal Michieli, 
391 ; on the poisoning of car- 



dinalsby Alexander VI., 392; on 
death of Cardinal of Modena, 
395 '. quoted, 425 ; refuses to wait 
on Cesare Borgia, 430 ; learns 
true intentions of Julius II., 


Gonzaga, Francesco (Marquis of 
Mantua) — at Fornovo, 121 ; at- 
titude towards Giovanni Sforza, 
253 ; at Milan, 337 ; on death 
of Alexander VI., 410 ; Gon- 
falonier, 440 

Granata, F. — on sack of Capua, 


Gregorovius, Ferdinand — refer- 
ence to, II ; on murder of 
Gandia, 147 ; his authorities 
examined, 149 ; on murder of 
Biselli, 238 ; on the supper of 
the courtesans, 306 ; on the 
Letter to Silvio Savelli, 308 ; 
on the conquest of the Ro- 
magna, 352 ; on the death of 
the Cardinal of Modena, 397 ; 
on death of Alexander VI., 407 

Guicciardini, Francesco — quoted, 
44 ; on election of Alexander 
VI,, 65 ; criticized, 68 ; on 
simony. 74 ; on death of Djem, 
116 ; criticism of, 153 ; on fate 
of Manfredi, 282 ; on murder of 
the Marescotti, 2^6 ; on sack 
of Capua, 298 ; on death of 
Varano, 334 ; on the affair of 
Sinigaglia, 384 ; on death of 
Alexander VI., 412 

Guidobaldo. Duke — {See Monte- 

Hugo, Victor — referred to, 12, 
13. 316 

Infessura — his diary quoted, 44 ; 
on death of Innocent VIII., 
59 ; on obsequies, 61 ; on 
Alexander VI., 78 ; on nuptials 
of Lucrezia Borgia, 91 

Innocent VIII., Pope (Giovanni 
Battista Cibo) — edict, 36 ; bas- 
tards of, 37 ; elected, 58 ; his 
scandalous reign, 59 ; death of, 
60 ; obsequies, 61 ; epilogue 
to his rule, 78 

Julius II., Pope — {See Cardinal 
Giuliano della Rovere) — his elec- 
tion, 429 ; orders obedience to 

Cesare Borgia, 429 ; requests 
safe-conduct through Tuscany 
for C.B., 430; reveals his true 
intentions, 431 ; demands from 
C.B. the surrender of the Ro- 
magna, 432 ; his anger at the 
Romagna's loyalty to C.B., 
434 ; permits C.B.'s departure 
from Rome, 435 ; seeks to 
justify himself, 436 ; obtains 
C.B.'s arrest, 437 ; his alarm 
at news of C.B.'s escape, 444 
Justolo — patronized by Cesare 
Borgia, 228 ; joins C.B.'s army, 
243 ; describes C.B., 257 

Leti, Gregorio — {See Tommasi) 

Lorenzo, Pier di — paints Cesare 
Borgia's portrait, 228 

Lorqua, Ramiro de — Master of 
Cesare Borgia's household, 179 ; 
Governor of ForU, 213 ; C.B.'s 
lieutenant in Forli, 258 ; de- 
molishes Castel Bolognese, 286 ; 
Governor of Romagna, 318; his 
harshness, 319 ; ordered to 
Pesaro, 351 ; summoned to 
Cesana, 367 ; arrested, 369 ; 
beheaded, 370 ; confessions, 

LouisXII. (King of France) — claims 
duchy of Milan, 169 ; appUes 
to Pope for dissolution of his 
marriage, 170 ; creates Cesare 
Borgia Duke of Valentinois, 
173 ; sends escort for C.B. , 179 ; 
welcomes C.B., 183 ; marries 
Anne of Brittany, 185 ; sug- 
gests bride to C.B., 186 ; pre- 
pares to invade Milan, 189 ; at 
Lyons, 191 ; enters Milan, 192 ; 
equips C.B. for the Romagna 
campaign, 199 ; sends fresh 
army against Milan, 225 ; con- 
siders conquest of Naples, 226 ; 
treaty with C.B., 241 ; em- 
bassy to Bentivogli, 267 ; noti- 
fies Pope of treaty with Spain, 
295 ; in Milan, 335 ; his recep- 
tion of C.B., 337 ; prepares for 
war in Naples, 338 ; treaty 
with C.B., 340 ; admonishes 
Venice, 360 ; guarantees treaty 
between Bentivogli and C.B., 
364 ; urges Florence to come to 
an accord with C.B., 366; de- 
sires election of Amboise to 



Papacy, 421 ; breaks faith 
with C.B., 445 
Luna, Cardinal de — papal legate, 

Luna, Francesco de — joins Cesare 
Borgia, 349 

Macchiavelli, Niccolo — The Prince, 
14 ; on Cardinal Riario, 42 ; 
criticism of, 151 ; charges Cesare 
Borgia with death of Almeida, 
185 ; admires C.B.'s disciphne, 
246 ; The Prince quoted, 259, 
281 ; criticizes Florentine 
policy, 289; meets C.B,, 330; 
Florentine ambassador to C.B., 
351; his admiration of C.B., 
352 ; arrives at Imola, 356 ; 
recipient of C.B.'s confidences, 
361 ; is evasive, 366 ; on the 
departure of the French lances, 
368 ; on Ramiro de Lorqua, 
369, 371 ; on the afifair of 
Sinigagiia, 375 ; recalled, 388 ; 
quoted, 425 ; dispatched to 
Rome, 429 ; importunes Sig- 
nory on C.B.'s behalf, 431 

Maino, Giasone — his pen-portrait 
of Roderigo Borgia, 28 

Malatesta, Pandolfo — Lord of 
Rimini, 251 ; capitulates, 252 ; 
restored by Venice, 420 ; driven 
out again by Naldi, 423 ; re- 
turns, 425 ; deposed by Venice, 

Mancini, Gianbattista — in Cesau-e 
Borgia's train, 180 

Mancioni — mutilated for libel, 311 

Manenti — Venetian envoy to Ce- 
sare Borgia, 269 

Manfredi (ambassador of Ferrara) 
— on death of Gandia, 146 ; 
on Cesare Borgia's mission to 
France, 185 

Manfredi, Astorre — entertains Ce- 
sare Borgia, 205 ; holds 
Faenza, 260 ; assisted by Benti- 
vogh, 261 ; resists C.B., 276 ; 
proposes surrender, 277 ; waits 
upon C.B., 278 ; imprisoned, 
281 ; drowned in Tiber, 282 

Manfredi, Gianevangelista — in 
defence of Faenza, 262 ; with 
Astorre, 278 ; imprisoned, 281 ; 
drowned in Tiber, 282 

Marciano, Pietro da — put to-death 
by Vitelli, 285 

Marciano, Rinuccio da — defends 
Capua, 296 ; death, 299 

Mariano, Mario di — in Cesare 
Borgia's train, 180 

Matarazzo, Francesco — on Co- 
lomba da Rieti, 122 ; criticism 
of, 151 ; cited by Gregorovius, 

Medici, Giovanni di Pierfrancesco 
de' — 202 

Medici, GuiUano de'— murdered, 

Medici, Giuliano de' (son of 
Lorenzo) — approaches Cesare 
Borgia, 288 

Medici, Lorenzo de' — 50 

Medici, Piero de' — refused audi- 
ence by Cesare Borgia, 288 ; 
killed at Garighano, 436 

Michieli, Giovanni (Cardinal of 
Sant' Angelo) — his death, 390 

Mirafuente, Gonsalvo de — in gar- 
rison at Forh, 218 ; his loyalty 
to Cesare Borgia, 438 

Mirandola, Antonio Pico della — 
perquisitions in his house, 158 

Mirandola, Lodovico Pico della — 
joins Cesare Borgia, 346 

Modena, Cardinal of — {See Gian- 
battista Ferrari) 

Moncada, Ugo di — captured, 359 

Monsignane, Evangelista da — 
butchered in Forli, 210 

Montefeltre, Giovanna da — Pre- 
fectress of Sinigagha, 367 ; 
leaves Sinigagiia, 372 

Montefeltre, Guidobaldo da (Duke 
of Urbino) — enters service of 
the Church, 133 ; prisoner, 134 ; 
supports Giovanni Sforza, 217 ; 
offers aid to Camerino, 325 ; 
his character, 327 ; surprised 
by Cesare Borgia, 328 ; his 
flight, 329 ; at Milan, 337 ; 
Urbino reconquered for him, 
350 ; re-enters Urbino, 359 ; 
driven out again, 365 ; at 
Perugia, 385 ; his return to 
Urbino, 417 

Montpensier — Viceroy of Naples, 
121 ; retires, 132 

Naldo, Dionigio di — defender of 
Imola, 204 ; surrenders, 205 ; 
with Cesare Borgia, 262 ; com- 
mander of Romagnuoli troops, 
i 349; at Cesena, 421; recap- 



tures Rimini, 423 ; his loyalty 
to C.B., 438 

Narni, Francesco di — in Florence, 

Nami, Lucia di — 126 

Nomaglie, Count Luffo — enter- 
tains Cesare Borgia, 207 

Oliverotto da Fermo — {See Eufre- 

Olivieri, Bishop of Isernia — Cesare 
Borgia's Lieutenant-General of 
the Romagna, 225 ; receives 
capitulation of Rimini, 252 

Ordelaffi, The — attack Forli, 423 ; 
take Forli, 425 

Orsini, Adriana — 56 

Orsini, Carlo (bastard of Gentile 
Virginio) — routs papal forces, 

Orsini, Fabio (son of Paolo) — 
marries Girolama Borgia, 1 80 ; 
at Sinigaglia, 373 ; escapes to 
Perugia, 384 ; with Baglioni, 


Orsini, Francesco (Duke of Gra- 
vina) — attacks Camerino, 326 ; 
in Diet of Magione, 343 ; at 
Sinigaglia, 373 ; arrested, 376 ; 
strangled, 389 

Orsini, Gentile Virginio — buys 
papal fiefs, 83 ; Bull against, 132 

Orsini, Cardinal Gianbattista — 
warmly welcomed by Louis 
XIL, 338 ; in Diet of Magione, 
343 ; arrested, 383 ; death, 
389 ; Pope accused of having 
poisoned him, 390 

Orsini, Gianbattista da Virginio 
— arrested, 383 

Orsini, Giangiordano (son of Gen- 
tile Virginio) — Bull against, 
132 ; in Cesare Borgia's train, 
180 ; in Bracciano, 389 

Orsini, Giulio (the Cardinal's 
brother) — makes treaty with 
Pope, 350 ; besieged at Ceri, 389 

Orsini, Paolo (bastard of Gian- 
giordano) — Bull against him, 
132 ; joins Cesare Borgia, 242 ; 
C.B.'s envoy to Bologna, 285; 
in Diet of Magione, 343 ; pro- 
poses reconciliation to C.B., 
358 ; fresh treachery of, 359 ; 
visits C.B. at Imola, 360 ; settles 
terms of treaty with C.B., 331 ; 
submits treaty to the confeder- 

ates, 364 ; takes signed treaty 

to C.B., 365 ; at Sinigaglia, 3 73 ; 

arrested, 376 ; strangled, 389 
Orsini, Rinaldo (Archbishop of 

Florence) — arrested, 383 
Orvieto, Piero da — hanged, 434 

Pallavicino, Cardinal Antoniotto 

Pallavicini, Galeotto — levies 
troops for Cesare Borgia, 349 

Panormitano, the Hermaphrodi- 
tus, 6 

Panvinio, Onofrio — on death of 
Djem, 117 ; criticism of, 153 

Paul II., Pope (Pietro Barbo) — 39 

Pazzi, Rafifaele de' — levies troops 
for Cesare Borgia, 349 

Perugino — employed by Alexan- 
der VI., 102 

Peruzzi — employed by Alexan- 
der VI., 102 

Petrucci, Pandolfo — Tyrant of 
Siena, 322 ; in Diet of Magione, 
343 ; seeks reconciliation with 
Cesare Borgia, 349 ; sends again, 
360 ; menaced by C.B., 388 ; 
expelled from Siena, 389 ; his 
restoration, 399 

Pinturicchio — portrait of Giulia 
Famese 102 ; patronized by 
Cesare Borgia, 228 

Pinzone, Sebastiano — sentenced 
for poisoning Cardinal of 
Modena, 395 ; the proceedings 
considered, 396 

Pius IL,Pope (Enea Silvio Barto- 
lomeo de' Piccolomini) — 31 ; 
his letter to Roderigo Borgia. 
32 ; Bull of, 36 

Pius III., Pope (Francesco Pic- 
colomini) — his election, 422 ; 
supports Cesare Borgia, 423 
his death, 425 

Poggio — FaceticB, 6 

Porcaro, Stefano — 40 

Porzio, Girolamo — pen-portrait of 
Roderigo Borgia, 28 

Pozzi, Gianluca — his letter to 
Ercole d'Este, 315 

Ramires, Diego — in the affair of 

La Caracciolo, 270 
Ramires, Pedro — Seneschal of Ur- 

bino, 398 ; retreats to Cesena, 

417 ; routs the allies, 424 ; 

loyalty to Cesare Borgia, 434 



Remolino, Francesco — befriended 
by Cesare Borgia, 81 ; sum- 
moned to Rome, 418 ; inter- 
cedes for C.B. with Julius II,, 
432 ; his flight from Rome, 
434 ; obtains Spanish safe- 
conduct for Cesare Borgia, 435 

Riario, Girolamo — 42 ; marries 
Caterina Sforza, 43 ; at death 
of Sixtus IV., 58; murder of, 

Riario, Piero — his luxury, 42 ; 
his death, 43 

Rieti, Colomba da — her miracles, 
122 ; visited by Alexander VI., 


Rovere, Francesco Maria della — 
adopted by Guidobaldo, 327 

Rovere, Giovanni della (Prefect 
of Sinigaglia) — intercepts letter 
from Bajazet, 113 

Rovere, Cardinal Giuliano della 
— raised to the purple, 43 ; at- 
tacks Citta di Castello, 50 ; 
celebrant, 61 ; candidate for 
Papacy, 62 ; schemes to depose 
Alexander VI., 84 ; in rebellion 
at Ostia, 85 ; supports French 
ambassador, 104 ; flight of, to 
France, 107 ; lays Bajazet' s 
letter before Charles VIII., 113; 
denounces Alexander VI., 128 ; 
Ostia held for, 134 ; condoles 
with Alexander on death of 
Gandia, 163 ; welcomes Cesare 
Borgia to France, 181 ; praises 
C.B., 183; his reconciliation 
with Alexander VI., 197 ; in- 
stitutes proceedings against 
Colloredo and Pinzone, 396 ; 
his election to Papacy sought 
by Venice, 421 ; his character 
considered, 426 ; his bargain 
with C.B., 427 ; the simony en- 
tailed, 428 ; elected Pope, 429. 
See Julius II. 

Sacco, Francesco del — aids Cesare 
Borgia's escape from Velletri, 

Sagredo — quoted, 116 

Salviati — Florentine ambassador 
to Cesare Borgia, 388 

Sanazzaro — criticism of, 149 ; 
with Federigo of Aragon, 300 

Sancia of Aragon (natural daugh- 
ter of Ferrante) — betrothed to 

Giuffredo Borgia, 97 ; lo^^se 
morals of, 131 ; relations with 
Gandia, 145 ; in murder of Bi- 
selli, 235 ; goes to Naples, 420 

Sangiorgio, Gianantonio — 163 

Sanguigna, Domenico — in Cesare 
Borgia's train, 180 

Sanseverino, Cardinal — assures 
Cesare Borgia of French sup- 
port, 419 

Sanseverino, Gasparo (Fracassa) 
— a Pontifical condottiero, 74 ; 
joins Cesare Borgia, 346 ; 
loyalty to C.B., 438 

Sansovino, Antonio di Monte — 
administers justice in Cesena, 

Santacroce, Giacomo di — arrested, 

Santacroce, Pietro di — in Cesare 
Borgia's train, 180 

Sanuto, Marino — on death of 
Djem, 117 ; on woman brought 
by Gandia from Spain, 132 ; on 
murder of Gandia, 145, 152 ; 
quoted, 167 ; on Caterina Sfor- 
za, 202 ; on death of Cardinal 
Giovanni Borgia, 214 ; on 
Caterina Sforza, 218 ; on Pope's 
welcome of Cesare Borgia, 219 ; 
on murder of Biselli, 233 ; on 
abduction of La Caracciolo, 
269 ; on the case of Panthasilea 
d'Alviano, 387 ; on the death 
of Alexander VI., 411 

Sassetta, Ranieri della — ^joins 
Cesare Borgia, 349 

Savonarola, Girolamo — denounces 
Alexander VI., 128; condoles 
with him on death of Gandia, 

Scipione, Baldassare — summoned 
by Cesare Borgia, 424 ; enlists 
lances for C.B., 437 ; his chal- 
lenge to Spain, 438 

Sforza, Cardinal Ascanio Maria — 
furthers the election of Alexan- 
der VI., 74; supports French 
ambassador, 104 ; suspected 
of murder of Gandia, 145 ; 
leaves Rome, 188 ; candidate 
for Papacy, 422 

Sforza, Galeazzo — surrenders Pe- 
saro, 254 

Sforza, Gian' Galeazzo (Duke of 
Milan) — imprisoned, 82 ; death, 
107 ; obsequies, 108 



Sforza, Giovanni (Tyrant of Pe- 
saro) marries Lucrezia Borgia, 
90; in Pontifical army, 131; 
conspicuous in Rome, 135 ; his 
flight, 136; suspected of mur- 
der of Gandia, 145 ; circum- 
stantially accused of this by 
Matarazzo, 152 ; divorced from 
Lucrezia, 154 ; seeks protection 
of Venice, 194 ; prepares for 
flight from Pesaro, 217 ; seeks 
help, 253 ; flight from Pesaro, 
254 ; murders CoUenuccio, 256 ; 
at Milan, 337 ; returns to 
Pesaro, 421 

Sforza, Lodovico Maria — Regent 
of Milan, 82 ; schemes against 
Naples, 83 ; seeks to make cats- 
paw of France, 95 ; at Pavia 
with Charles VIII,, 107 ; elected 
Duke of Milan, 108 ; intrigues 
against Charles VIII., 120; 
makes terms with Charles, 131 ; 
discovers league against himself, 
188 ; his flight, 191 ; raises an 
army, 217 ; drives the French 
out of Milan, 225 ; his capture 
and death, 226 

Sforza- Riario, Cardinal — his col- 
lection of antiques, 229 

Sforza-Riario, Caterina — married 
to Girolamo Riario, 43; at- 
tempts to poison Alexander VI. , 
196 ; administrator of Imola 
and Forli, 201 ; defends Forli, 
203 ; besieged, 207 ; treachery 
of, 208 ; defeated and captured, 
209 : claimed by Bailie of 
Dijon, 216; leaves Forli with 
Cesare Borgia, 216; goes a 
captive to Rome, 218 ; her 
death, 218 

Sforza-Riario, Ottaviano (Cater- 
ina' s son) — 202 ; sent to Imola, 
203 ; sent to Florence, 206 

Sixtus IV., Pope (Francesco Maria 
della'Rovere) — taxes courtesans, 
36 ; his " nephews," 37 ; his 
coronation, 39 ; his pontificate, 
40 ; simony of, 41 ; nepotism of, 
42 ; Bull to Cesare Borgia, 48 ; 
inspires Pazzi conspiracy, 50 ; 
wars with Florence, 50 ; dies of 
rage, 53 

Soderini, Bishop — ambassador of 
Florence to Cesare Borgia, 330 ; 
his judgment of C.B., 331 ; in- 

structed to temporize, 333 ; on 
iUness of Cardinal Orsini, 390 
Sperulo — patronized by Cesare 
Borgia, 228 ; joins Cesare Bor- 
gia's forces, 243 

Tiberti, Achille — levies troops for 
Cesare Borgia, 199 ; demands 
surrender of Imola, 204 ; at 
Forli, 206 ; levies condotta for 
C.B., 243 ; killed, 277 

Tommasi, Tommaso — his Life of 
Cesare Borgia, 13, 451 

Torella, Gaspare^ — Cesare Borgia's 
physician, 179 ; his treatise on 
pudendagra, 180, 273 

Torella, Count Guido — Benti- 
vogli's envoy to Faenza, 261 

Torre, Cristofero della — 398 

Torrigiani, Pietro — joins Cesare 
Borgia's forces, 243 

Trans, de — at Imola with Manenti, 
269 ; assures Cesare Borgia of 
French support, 419 

Tremouille, La — defeats Lodovico 
Sforza, 225 

Trivulzio, Giangiacomo — com- 
mands French army, 189 ; ruler 
of Milan, 199 ; recalls d'AUegre, 

Troche, Francesco — Cesare Bor- 
gia's agent, 335 ; C.B.'s edict 
against him, 403 ; rumours 
concerning this, 404 ; mystery 
of his death, 405 

Tuate, Fileno della — 341 

Valentinois, Louise de — Cesare 
Borgia's daughter, 317 ; be- 
trothed, 338 ; her marriages, 

Valla, Lorenzo — indictment of 

virginity, 6 ; attacks temporal 

power, 40 
Valois, Jeanne de — divorced, 170 ; 

her death, 451 
Vasari, Gustavo — 102 
Varano, Annibale — son of Giulio 

Varano, 326 ; at Perugia, 385 
Varano, Gianmaria — son of Giulio 

Varano, 326 ; attempts re- 

conquest of Camerino, 359 ; 

succeeds in this, 363 
Varano, Giulio Cesare — Tyrant of 

Camerino by murdering his 

brother, 325 ; attacked by 

Cesare Borgia's army, 326 ; 



forced to surrender, 333 ; cap- 
tivity and death of, 334 

Varano, Pietro — son of Giulio 
Varano, 326 ; at Milan, 337 ; 
strangled by Corella, 363 

Varano, Venanzio — son of Giulio 
Varano, 326 ; defeats Gravina's 
horse, 333 ; imprisoned, 334 ; 
at Perugia, 385 

Venice, Republic of — protects 
Rimini and Faenza, 226 ; com- 
pelled to withdraw this pro- 
tection, 241 ; sends Manenti to 
Cesare Borgia, 269 ; libels C.B. 
to Louis XII., 344 ; admonished 
by Louis XII., 360; action in 
the matter of Panthasilea d'Al- 
viano, 387 ; jealous hostihty of, 
398 ; aids Guidobaldo, 417 ; 
checked by France, 420 ; de- 
sires election of GiuHano della 
Rovere to Papacy, 421 ; seizes 
Rimini, 429 

Vera, Giovanni — Cesare 's pre- 
ceptor, 81 ; papal legate, 294 

ViUari, Pasquale, quoted, 28 ; 65 ; 
his criticism of the conquest of 
the Romagna, 353 ; on Troche, 
403 ; on death of Alexander VI., 

Villeneuve, Louis de — French am- 
bassador to Rome, 173, 241 

Vinci, Leonarda da — patronized 
by Cesare Borgia, 228 ; in C.B.'s 
service, 291, 318 

Vitelli, Vitellozzo — aids Orsini, 

133 ; joins Cesare Borgia, 201 ; 
commands artillery, 242 ; ad- 
vances on Faenza, 262 ; puts 
to death Pietro da Marciano, 
285 ; implores C.B, to go into 
Tuscany, 287 ; sent to Pisa, 
291 ; accused of poisoning 
wounds of Rinuccio da Mar- 
ciano, 299 ; plots against Flor- 
ence, 322 ; enters Arezzo, 323 ; 
ordered out of Tuscany by 
C.B., 336 ; his anger, 338 ; 
rebels against C.B., 343 ; seizes 
Castel Durante, 358 ; supports 
Guidobaldo, 359 ; rejects Or- 
sini's treaty with C.B., 364 ; 
signs the treaty, 365 ; advises 
C.B. of the surrender of Sini- 
gaglia, 372 ; at SinigagUa, 373 ; 
arrested, 376 ; strangled, 378 ; 
his plot against C.B.'s life, 383 
Volpe, Taddeo deUa — summoned 
by Cesare Borgia, 424 ; routed 
and captured, 433 ; loyalty to 
C.B., 438 

Ximenes, Cardinal — opposes Ce- 
sare Borgia's renunciation of 
the purple, 174 

Yriarte, Charles — quoted and criti- 
cized, 75, 92, 222, 254, 299, 446 

Zizim — {See Djem) 
Zurita — quoted, 441 ; on Cesare 
Borgia's escape, 444 

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